Quick Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls by Patrick NessThis book was on the shortlist for the Indie Lit Awards in the Speculative Fiction genre. I read this book because I was in the jury for this genre. I had read one previous book by Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go, which I enjoyed a lot.

This book was a children’s book. It has black and white pictures throughout the book, quite dramatic!

The book is about Conor, 13 years old, who is having nightmares. One nightmare in particular keeps coming back. But then one night, he wakes up to a real nightmare: A monster, looking like the yew tree that he can see from his window, is coming close up and looks very scary.

Conor’s mother is very ill and there are some doubts that she will get better, although everyone is putting on a brave face. At school Conor is being bullied, his grandmother (whom he doesn’t like) takes him in for a while, and at night he’s visited by a monster. Life is very difficult for Conor.

The monster that visits at night tells him stories from which it becomes clear that people aren’t just good or bad, as Conor has always thought, but that a baddie can do good things, and vice versa. This helps Conor in accepting his situation.

It was a very well-written book with a heavy topic. I’m not quite sure what age group this book would be most suitable for. My son (14) read it and seemed to enjoy it but we didn’t really get to discuss it together. I think he was a little ambivalent about the book.

I don’t read a lot of children’s books now that my own sons are teenagers, but I think this was a high-quality book, especially interesting for children who need to deal with a loss, or with guilt. Recommended.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I got this book: from my on-line book store

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 216

First published: 2011

Genre: fantasy, children’s fiction


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About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

14 Responses to Quick Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed this book, Judith, I thought it was very good.
    As far as the age the book is aimed as is concerned. In the library where I work we have the book in the section for 12 -14 year-olds.
    Is this it now? Have you reviewed all the books, or is there more to come?

    • Leeswammes says:

      Marleen, I would think this book can be for 12-14 year old, but also for a slightly younger group, 10-12. I thought my 14 year old was a little too old for it, although he did enjoy it.

      There are 2 more Indie Lit books to come. I still have a backlog of reviews that are already written (amazing!!) and I’m not really posting them in any particular order.

      • By coincidence I stumbled upon a discussion about what books are suitable for what age on Facebook yesterday, started by an Irish organisation for and about children. I think overhere the concensus is, in most cases, that the age of the main protagonist is a good indicator as to what age reader the book is aimed at.
        I’m looking forward to the remaining reviews. I have the Stephen King book (did you already do that one, I can’t remember) here at home from the library but its size is sort of delaying me starting it, especially since I’m working so many extra hours at the moment. I may start it this weekend though. At least I’ll have two days off in a row to make a bit of a dent in it.

      • Leeswammes says:

        Marleen, I don’t know – when I was young I tended to read books with protagonists slightly older than me. I think most of us girls did.

        I did the Stephen King review already, *HERE. *It’s not a book that lasts forever, it’s a relatively fast read, I’d say. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

  2. I wish I was a child now, when I see what great books there are forchildren nowadays…🙂

  3. This is one I want to read and then forget I want to read… and then see it on a blog and want to read it again!

  4. parrish lantern says:

    I have this & another of his on my Ereader, got them to check out for my daughter (11) & have yet to read them.

  5. Iris says:

    I loved this book to pieces. (is that even a saying at all?) I haven’t reviewed it yet, because I find it so difficult to find the words. Did I mention I cried my eyes out?

    • Leeswammes says:

      I remember you saying how much you liked this book, Iris. And the other books by Patrick Ness. It’s really nice when you find a writer whose books you relate to so much.

  6. kristi says:

    I really connected with this book. I’m not a crier usually, but this one really punched me in the gut. I did read the Chaos Walking Trilogy and didn’t really love it. The story line was good (a little repetitious), but I felt emotionally manipulated a tad. A Monster Calls never felt manipulative and that’s what I loved about it.

    I bought a copy as well, but I haven’t figured out the right age to read this one either.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Kristi, good to hear you loved this book so much!

      I read the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy and I enjoyed it, but never got around to read the others.

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