It's quite difficult to review a book that has had mostly positive reviews when you don't really feel the same way towards it. This book, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness was indeed very good, but unfortunately tears weren't gushing out of my eyes, and nor was I particularly saddened by the ending. It's a wonderful book though, and one I highly urge anybody to check out.
The story follows Conor O'Malley, a young boy who is visited by a strange monster late one night during a particularly awful time in his life – his mother has cancer, his father has moved to America with a new wife and baby, people tend to ignore him at school, and his hard-nosed grandmother wants to uproot him to move in with her. The monster claims to be the Green Man, Cernunnos, the very essence of nature itself, and he's here to tell him some stories. All of which relate to his current state of being in some way, shape or form. And when he's finished, this monster needs Conor to give him a story as well, to help him come to terms with the turn his life has suddenly taken.
Amusingly enough, Conor is never afraid of this monster, and even interrupts him while he's telling his stories to comment on a rage-inducing facet of a story. It's kind of like those scenes in The Princess Bride where the kid keeps butting into the grandfather's story.The book itself is illustrated beautifully. It's dark and sketchy, which suits the story really well. You get the sense of enormity when the monster sits down on top of grandma's shed, or reaches its arm into Conor's room, or even strikes a dramatic 'YOU DON'T KNOW WHO I AM!?' pose (which is on pages 42-43 of my edition). The imagery of the yew tree is beautiful, especially when it's worked into the narrative of the stories the monster tells Conor.
Patrick Ness' good old fragmented writing is back again, by the way. So if you don't like it -when I suddenly-just-write like this-you might find this a wee bit frustrating. But it's a lot more toned down this time, and it works really well.This novel does indeed have a bittersweet ending. But it didn't tug on these stony old heartstrings in the slightest, for some reason. Maybe it was because from all the (glowingly positive) reviews I'd read of this book, the sad ending was something everyone seemed to agree upon. Right, no more reading reviews for me, because unfortunately for me, even being told that something is sad is a huge spoiler.
Nah, I couldn't do that. This book was wonderful, I just didn't cry at it, as per the reaction of most of the reviews I've read.