Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Review: A Monster Calls - Siobhan Dowd and Patrick Ness

Published: May 2nd 2011, Walker Books
Pages: 215 pages, hardback
Series?: Nope, standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming... The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

Costa Award winner Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel of coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.

My review: A lot has been written about A Monster Calls. Where do you even start? It's such a powerful book, started and finished by two exceptional writers, one of whom is so sadly no longer with us. I cry a lot when I read - I think most of you know that by now! I'm not ashamed to admit I shed my first tear of A Monster Calls when I read Patrick Ness' introduction, which is perfect. Trust me, if you read this one (which you absolutely have to, I insist) you'll need a tissue. Or maybe a whole pack.

First things first, the writing here is absolutely spectacular. Honestly, there isn't a thing I can criticise about it. Ness is a master of words and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that this is first thing of his I've read - though when I finished A Monster Calls I dived straight into The Knife of Never Letting Go (my review of which is coming tomorrow). The writing in A Monster Calls reminded me a little of Skellig - the language used is deceptively simple but leaves room for so many wonderful ideas to take precedent, which is what makes this book have such crossover appeal.

The illustrations in A Monster Calls are stunning. It's such a gorgeous book and such great quality, it feels so heavy and just looks fantastic - the spine is simple but completely eye catching. Perfect. Gothic, terrifying and always beautiful. Jim Kay, you are a genius.

A Monster Calls is heartbreaking in such a controlled, subtle way. The scenes between Conor and Lily seemed particularly real and I loved their relationship, very sweet. Now I've read The Knife of Never Letting Go I did see some slight similarities between Conor and Todd and Lily and Viola and I found it really interesting to see how these similar characters behaved in such different circumstances.

There's nothing else I can say that hasn't already been said in the hundreds of 5* reviews that are all over the Internet. Just please, please pick up a copy of this wonderful, important book. I promise you won't be let down, it's definitely one of my reads of the year and I guarantee you won't be able to get it out of your mind for a long while after reading. Stunning.

First line: 'The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.'

Read if you liked…: Flyaway - Lucy Christopher (for a more lighthearted read that focuses around similar themes)

Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 5/5
Total: 19/20 (A)


  1. This is on my desk waiting to be read :D

    Enjoy The Knife of Never Letting Go - as you can tell from the review I did of it on my blog - it completely wrecked me! The entire series did. It's easily the best series I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Patrick Ness is a genius.

  2. This is an amazing book. Thanks for the review!

  3. Yay! Another Ness convert. It really is a beautiful book and the Chaos Walking is nothing short of genius. Great review and can't wait to see what you thought of The Knife of Never Letting Go.

  4. I loved it, really, I did. It's a special little book. The writing itself is simple yet effective and the illustrations (which are wonderful) fit in just perfectly and really tie the story together. I would recommend it to anyone- books like this don't come around very often!

    Click Here Western Boots


Thank you kindly for the comment, you sweet thing.