Welcome to my blog. I often think I was born with a book in my hand. I have always enjoyed reading, but more importantly, talking about books. This blog is partially about reviews, but is really a forum to talk about what I'm reading, and express all of the thoughts and feelings that there simply isn't room for in a professional review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your favourite books as you follow my reading journey.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Monster Calls: An Intense and Riveting Read

When the monster comes to Conor at exactly seven minutes past midnight, he is hardly frightened. The monster he's been expecting is the one from his nightmare-the one he's had nearly every night since his mother began the treatments, and it's far more terrifying. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient and wild and what it wants from Conor is the one thing that he fears more than anything- the truth!

Every once in a while comes a book that is such a true masterpiece it's hard to know where to begin to rave about it. It's dark and deep and tightly written, and I haven't stopped thinking about it since I finished it. There is a particular theme in this book, that I've seen in a few other's I've read this year as well, which is about knowing a truth in your heart and being afraid to face it. It also looks at what happens when adults try to sugarcoat the truth from children.

The monster who appears to 13-year-old Conor takes the form of an old Yew tree. He promises to tell Conor 3 stories, but in exchange, wants a story from Conor. Not just any story will do, however. He wants the real story. The true story that Conor knows but hasn't wanted to tell. The story about what is going to happen to his mother, and what will happen to him.

Is the monster real? Maybe. Conor initally thinks that it's a dream, but then sees the evidence of the monster's visit. On the other hand, maybe the monster lives inside Conor. Maybe it represents everything that he is feeling, and it's the way he copes with everything that is going on. In the course of the monster's visits, Conor learns some important lessons. He learns that good and evil are not always as simple as he thinks. He learns that sometimes people do evil things for reasons that are good. Sometimes people do things that are good for reasons that are bad. Sometimes motive doesn't matter and it's the result that matters.

This story is based on an idea from the brilliant Siobhan Dowd, who died from breast cancer before she was able to write this book, and you can tell what a personal story this would have been for her. Ness perfectly captures the emotional roller coaster of an isolated and frightened boy, and he'll pull you along with him until the heartbreaking finale.