My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A Monster Calls is the sort of book that transports you to feel what you felt at the most heart-breaking moments of your life. It’s a book that, despite being short in length, it can only be read deeply as it’ll provoke you to speculate about what it means to lose the people you love.
– Outstanding way to broach the subject of grief and loss with young people
– It’ll make you reflect on your own life and how you feel about the people in it
– It doesn’t try to pull at your heartstrings, it just does without it feeling forced or over the top.
– I feel like it would be a good idea, especially for young readers, to have someone to talk to about the book if you’re particularly affected by it. Not so much a ‘con’, but a warning perhaps.
– It’s marketed at young people but I think that’s misleading, though it’s simply written in parts, this book has something for everyone, regardless of age.
– It has received some criticism for being predictable, however, I think this is done on purpose so as not to take away from the emotional gravitas of the overall story: being true to yourself and letting go. Also, it’s important to bear in mind that this book isn’t so much a lead up to the ending but more about the journey it takes to get there.
I imagine this book hits every person in a different way depending on where they are in their life and how much they can relate to Connor’s pain at facing unbearable loss. For that reason, it’s clear to see why some people have a powerful, emotionally heart-breaking reaction to it and why others perhaps, are left wondering what sets this apart from any other sad story. At first, the book feels as though the most interesting feature is the monster – the mystery behind his stories and his appearance – but the more you read on, you realise that the monster is only a small aspect of a much bigger story – one that will be familiar to most people because they will have felt what Connor feels at some point in their lives.
As it’s a very short book, I recommend people go out and read it for themselves rather than reading too many reviews, I don’t think having the hype of the book’s reviews will do anything but take-away from the experience of reading it. At most, it’ll take two hours of your time to read the book but it’s a story that will stay with you long after reading.
If Ness could do anything to extend the story without it losing its emotional potency, what I would love to see come out of this book would be a spin-off story of the book from Connor’s mother’s point of view. It can’t be easy being the parent in this situation and I think it would be interesting to see the mother’s need to protect versus Connor’s need for transparency and stability.