A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (2011)

Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak (p 51)?

Oh, this book is so goooooood.

Connor has nightmares so terrifying, the monster who appears in his back yard doesn’t scare him in the least. The monster may be the size of a yew tree, contorted with an evil grimace, but it is not scary. Connor’s mother is sick and the treatments she receives only make her worse.  His father is has moved to America with his new wife and child.  At school, Connor is either bullied or ignored. So instead of being afraid of the moster, Connor hopes it can help him. After all, the monster is powerful.

The monster’s help comes in the form of three true stories, with the agreement that Connor will tell a fourth truth. But truth is at the heart of Connor’s nightmares.

This story within a story techinique and the story about story theme have been explored in many other much-discussed novels of 2011: Breadcrumbs, The Mostly True Story of Jack, and The Girl Who Circumnavigated the Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Interesting.

This slim novel packs a strong punch. I appreciated it front to back and up and down. It’s a book I don’t want to review in detail because I’m still savoring the experience. I’m not ready to share. Well-written and well-paced with complimentary illustrations, it’s one of the best books of 2011.

Is it elegible for a Newbery? Jonathan Hunt talks about it on Heavy Medal. I would be so disappointed if a sidebar kept this one from being recognized. Of course, there’s always the Printz!

Read other reviews:
Books, Time and Silence
Fuse #8
The Guardian

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