Spooky! Scary!, Young Adult

Things that go bump in the night…

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The Skinny: Conor’s mom is sick. Cancer. As if this wasn’t bad enough, his dad has remarried and moved to America with his new wife; his grandmother, whom he hates, comes to stay with him and his mom; he’s picked on at school for having a sick mother; oh, and a monster appears at his bedroom window one night. The monster tells Conor that he will tell him three stories and after they are told, Conor will tell him a fourth one. The fourth story will be Conor’s truth. The monster’s stories aren’t what they seem to be and Conor must learn what he can from these and, essentially, learn to deal with his crumbling world.

BFF?: Why is it that whenever I read a book about a boy I never want to be BFFs with him? I instead want to be his big sister so I can hug him and take care of him, tell him everything is going to be alright. Conor is no exception to this! As I was reading the story I kept thinking about my own little brother and when our grandfather died. I remembered how he reacted to the news and how I comforted him. This is exactly the type of emotions Conor brought up for me; I wanted to be his big sister and be strong for him the entire time I was reading this book.

Readability: This was a completely easy read with a good mix of heart and action. Ness’s writing absolutely captures every character in his story – the unsureness of Conor; the sternness of his grandmother; the flakiness of his father; the scariness of the monster. Especially the monster. Ness has the ability to keep you on the edge of your seat while truly feeling for Conor.

Crush Level: 0
There is no one to crush on in this book. End of story.

Bonus Points:
We’ve probably all had someone in our lives who has had cancer. My mom did when I was sophomore in college. Granted she didn’t die, but it was scary! I can’t imagine how I would have felt had she been as sick as Conor’s mom was, but I have a feeling a monster probably would have come to visit me.

Moral Stories

These aren’t your typical fairy stories with the characters all living happily ever after and you learning a valuable lesson. The stories the monster tells don’t turn out the way you’d expect and, for a 13 year old, they are really confusing. Best lesson learned though: good and evil aren’t always easy to tell apart.

Uptight Granny

Conor’s grandmother is not the kind of grandmother who knows how to cook and bake delicious things. She doesn’t knit or crochet you a sweater or scarf. She gets take-out, she’s pretty blunt and mostly business. But in the end we get to see her have a break-down which is good, because it shows she’s not a total biatch!


Without getting too spoilerrific, one of the monster’s stories causes Conor to have a total melt-down in his grandmother’s fancy-pants living room. I can totally relate to this.

Commencement Speech: Thank you library for making this book available for download. Had it not been staring me in the face, I might have not taken a chance on it anytime soon, despite all the wonderful things said about this. That being said, if you’re looking for a book that will make you shed a tear (or bawl like a baby) this is the one to do it. Not because there’s super sad scenes, but because of how powerful it is. This one knocks you out, is real and honest while still being beautiful and full of heart. You feel for all of the characters, not just Conor, and develop real emotions for their struggles. I highly recommend this  regardless of what genre you’re more inclined to read; it’s that good. Also, there’re pictures. Awesome pictures.

Superlatives – Most Likely to Make You Want Need to Give Your Mom a Hug


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8 thoughts on “Things that go bump in the night…”

  1. What an amazing book. I like your description of why it is is so emotional. I also read this from the public library as an ebook, and I’m so glad they offered it because I might not have read it otherwise. But I’m sooooo glad I did.


  2. Most likely to make you want to give your mom a hug is right! Gosh, this book really speaks to something deep inside of you. Such awesome storytelling.


  3. Oh my goodness, I really need to read this. Have you read his other series, Chaos Walking? I haven’t read the last book (only because I’m sad that it will all be over AND because Ness has a thing for totally breaking my heart), but if not you totally should. His stuff didn’t seem like something that would normally appeal to me (you know, no kissing), but The Knife of Never Letting Go was totally fantastic.


  4. Oh my god. The emotional bombs dropped in A Monster Calls, I can’t even.

    AND YES to every thing you noted. I loved this entire book. And all the heart and the action and the characters and the stories. Holy wow.


  5. How did I miss that you reviewed this?! Bad bloggy friend, Amy! But I loved this book so, SO deeply. It made me emotional and sad and made me feel all the feelings. If Conor isn’t the most heart-breaking, endearing kid ever, I don’t know who is. I’m so glad that you liked it. 🙂


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