A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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A BEAUTIFUL novel for readers both young and old and in-between, A Monster Calls deals with issues of death, cancer and the fear of being alone or invisible.  It also touches on some of the complexities of childhood friendships and related issues such as bullying.

Coner is a twelve year old boy whose mum is sick. His dad lives in America with his ‘new’ family and his Gran isn’t like proper grans.

He’s carrying the burden of his mum being too sick and he’s looking after her and running their household. And each night, the nightmare comes. The Monster.

There is a whimsical quality achieved by writers who wrote for children or younger readers that is hard to define. Even if the content is sand or serious or scary there is something comforting and cozy about them. Perhaps it is a nostalgia for the childlike voice of the narrator.

As well as being a beautifully written story, the pages are filled with stunning illustrations which add to the ambience of the text. I particularly love the Yew Tree as a character and how it is illustrated.

I also love the motif of stories having complex endings. Just when you think you know where the story is going, or what it means, something changes. It turns parables and fables on their heads slightly.

Overall, I absolutely 100% recommend this text. It’s a 5/5 from me, although I originally gave it a 4/5 I can’t think of a single criticism. There might be something, but if so the whimsy of the text has clouded my memory of it. If you are looking to read it (which you totally and absolutely should!) I encourage you to get the illustrated version – I just can’t imagine it being as wonderful without the sensory overload the pictures add to the story.

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