Reading Level: 12 and up
Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness inspired by Siobhan Dowd
Publication Date: September 15, 2011
Audio Reading: 3 hrs 59 mins
Narration by: Jason Isaacs
From the book:
At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd-- whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself-- Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.
Seems simple enough, but the truth for Conor is admitting something that he's absolutely terrified of and hasn't even come to terms with himself. The Yew Tree's arrival signifies a change in Conor. One that he's not ready for but has to live through, otherwise he will never be able to face what is to come.
A Monster Calls was inspired by a premise from author Siobhan Dowd, who died of breast cancer short of seeing it into fruition. With Dowd's notes about the story, Patrick Ness wrote A Monster Calls. Talk about inspiration!
On the narration: Jason Isaacs does a wonderful job narrating A Monster Calls. He conveyed all of the characters brilliantly, and his take on the gravelly Yew Tree was excellent. Gritty, hearty, full of emotion - he was the perfect narrator for this story. Bravo! The narration concludes with a 10 minute interview of Patrick Ness where narrator, Jason Isaacs is the interviewer. I loved this bit, as it gave a lot of insight to the story and the inspiration behind it.
Something of note, Ness remarked that he hopes that the best of both of he and Siobhan Dowd are found in the reading of this book. While I'm not familiar with Dowd's work, the story was beautifully told. I'm sure any author would be proud to see their work presented in such a way.
Notes: A Monster Calls deals with a hard subject matter for children with great care. The subject of cancer is simplified enough for a reader 12 and up to understand. The gravity of the Conor's situation will not be lost on them, though I think this book gains an overall better appreciation with age.
Final Thoughts: If you haven't read this, please don't hesitate to do so. It is a must read, in my humble opinion. I plan on getting the hard cover of this book for the illustrations - which are amazing - and also because it's that good that I must have both.
"Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak." - Yew Tree
Visit author Patrick Ness here.
*Illustrations are from illustrator's Jim Kay's website. The last illustration was found here.