Monday, August 15, 2016

A Monster Calls

Having finished 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child', I was in the mood to read another book for independent readers (btw, I thought the HP book was....okay. I'm not big on reading plays; I much rather see them performed).

So, when I received the notice that a library book came in for me, I wasn't surprised to learn that it was a story for independent readers.  What was even more coincidental was that I had just watched the trailer of the film adaptation.

In October, I will head to the theater to watch 'A Monster Calls', especially now that I've read the story.  Hearing Liam Neeson's voice as the monster is a nice little nudge, too.

Author Patrick Ness has written a story (and the screenplay) based on an idea from the late children's writer Siobhan Dowd (her premature death from cancer kept her from writing the book). Funny, dark, and very, very moving, the story brought me to tears several times, and made me consider my own mortality.

Conor has been expecting the monster from his nightmare, the one he's had every night since his mother started chemo.  The nightmare with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...

But this monster is different, and not the one from his nightmare.  It is ancient and wild. And it wants something that is difficult for Conor to give:  The truth.

This is a story of a young boy dealing with his mother's terminal illness, and the school bullies, and his dreaded grandmother.  It is also the story of a young boy who needs his father, but gets just a small part of a parent who lives far away.

His grandmother turned out to be a total surprise.  Her devotion to her daughter was truly heartfelt and made me cry (very familiar ground for me). But it was Conor who earned my sympathy; a young boy full of anger and sadness.  A very scared child.  

Unlike Conor's teachers, the monster does not coddle him.  It encourages Conor to release his anger so he can get to the truth he is reluctant to reveal.
Author Patrick Ness

The illustrations by Jim Kay are perfect; black and white, and phenomenal.  They lend a dark air to the story, up until the very end.

Patrick Ness, author of the 'Chaos Walking' series (and other fantastic novels), has done an incredible job with Dowd's last idea.  

He has certainly done it justice.

'A Monster Calls', by Patrick Ness, and published by Candlewick Press, is available at your local library and favorite bookstore. Book Hog suggests you purchase a big box of tissues, too.

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