Friday, April 29, 2011

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

My love for Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking Trilogy is huge. A big thank you to Candlewick for sending me A Monster Calls in the mail!

This is such a departure from Chaos Walking, and I was curious how Ness would handle it. How do you take another author (and a beloved deceased author at that) and make their story your own? Well, if you're Ness you do it with grace and write an amazing story that does justice to your own reputation as well as Dowd's.

Conor is having a rough time. His mother has cancer, he's being bullied at school, and he has had the same nightmare every night since his mother was diagnosed. So when a monster shows up, he's not all that surprised. The only thing is, it isn't the monster from his nightmare. This one is entirely new.

The first thing I noticed is that regardless of this being an entirely different type of story, there were some big thematic similarities - mainly in the fact that Ness makes "truth" an essential part of the story regardless of what type of story he is writing. The monster in this story is searching for Conor's truth. He tells "true" stories. There is tension between the grandmother and the mother regarding truth, between Conor and his father, between Conor and the bully, and so on. The levels and layers of truth affect relationships with others, but sometimes, most importantly, how it affects your relationship with yourself. It was brilliant.

I really liked the way that monster was an ancient, earth-based spirit/creature. He was monstrous, but he was also recognizable and somewhat natural (I'm grasping at how to describe him - I don't mean natural like home-grown in your garden - more like it was almost normal that there were things in the world like the monster). He tied into the plot in interesting and surprising ways. The stories he told were good stories in and of themselves, but really served to further open the consciousness of Conor, and managed to do so without being remotely frying-pan-ish.

I liked the art - especially the monster. Occasionally the art was a little dark for me to make out all the nuances, but that may be due to it being an arc.


Book Source = Arc sent by publisher


lisa (the nerd) said...

so jealous i can hardly stand it!

also, thanks for your review. seriously, Ness weaves one fantastic story. i can't wait to see that combined with art for extra amazing!

joanna said...

Holy Moly! So Siobhan Dowd started this story before she passed away? I LOVE HER. It's hard to see what the book cover says. I'd love to know more about how he felt about taking over her story. I'll be on the look out for this one.

Patti said...

I was really sort of nervous reading this because I wanted to like it so much. Happily, I did.

It was also a more middle grade, which was interesting.