A Monster Calls: Patrick Ness’ unique approach to unlocking the child’s mind

Everybody is dealing with something, whether you know it or not. However, in A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, the problems main character Conor O’Malley is dealing with are known to everyone around him.

At least they seem to believe so.

His mother is dying. That’s the part we all know about. Cancer has taken over her body and she gets weaker by the day.

Conor hopes that she will get better one day, but keeps himself in a constant state of denial. Under the surface however, he is a lot more complicated.

What he doesn’t tell anyone is how nightmares keep him up at night.

Or more specifically, at 12:07am every night.

This is the exact time he wakes up from the horrible nightmare of a terrifying beast pulling his mother into a bottomless pit. This is a recurring phenomenon which has become almost normal for him, so imagine his surprise when he wakes up one night to find an actual monster standing outside his bedroom.

Thankfully, this monster is not synonymous with Conor’s nightmare, but his presence gives a shock all the same.  

The monster in his room is essentially a tree, like Groot or something similar. He visits Conor in the night to tell him three separate stories that are supposed to teach him lessons about life, although nothing in the stories is quite what it seems until Conor realizes too late.

Filled with beautiful artistry by illustrator Jim Kay, A Monster Calls pulls in even the most disinterested of readers.

Each page has been carefully designed to fit the context of the chapters and set the mood for what you are about to read. It’s essentially a grown up version of a picture book.

But, don’t let those words fool you, as the subject-matter of this novel in anything but childish. Proceed with caution, and keep the tissues close by in case of spontaneous bouts of waterworks.

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