Thursday, June 02, 2011

A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness)

This is not a review.

I first heard of Patrick Ness thanks to an old Amazon recommendation in 2009. Later, he was mentioned in an io9 article, which somehow legitimized my desire to find his books. In 2009, I found both The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer in Bibliarch Glorietta, and the rest was history. I remember not even managing to climb the stairs of my lonely apartment because I was too engrossed in his books. I read them straight. I don't even remember fixing myself dinner. After the release of Monsters of Men last year, I had been eagerly awaiting his next title.

Then came A Monster Calls. Like I said earlier, this is not a review.

A Monster Calls was really the brainchild of author Siobhan Dowd. I am sorry to admit that I've never read anything she has written before this. But Ms Dowd passed on before she could finish it, and Mr Ness was left with the task. In the story, Conor comes face-to-face with a walking nightmare. And whether Conor likes it or not, the monster is there to tell him three tales -- and expects one in return. And what Conor has chosen to tell literally shook me. I cried. I had been in his shoes before. I knew that life. This is what I mean when I say this is not a review. I am not the right person to ask.

The spark which belonged to Ms Dowd was shaped by Mr Ness' way of writing powerful coming-of-age stories and Jim Kay's brilliantly dark illustrations. A Monster Calls knew, with its honest and simple prose, how to reveal a carefully layered story, one that is brimming with emotion that is neither put-on or pretentious. You have to be there, at 12.07, to know what I mean.

If you've faced sickness and death and loss and regret in your life, read it. This is not a review. This is an exhortation.

A very special thank you to Tina of One More Page for my lovely copy.


Chachic said...

Aww Chris, loved what you had to say about this book. You've made me curious about this even though I didn't love The Knife of Never Letting Go. I requested it from NetGalley but haven't gotten a response. If I don't get the review copy, I'll find some other way to read it. It sounds beautiful.

dementedchris said...

I think it helps to be a fan of sci-fi to appreciate fully what Ness did with The Knife of Never Letting Go but A Monster Calls (I think) just relies on very honest storytelling. I hope you do get to read it!

Chachic said...

I'm not a big fan of sci fi but I do read it from time to time. I loved Ender's Game and Ness' worldbuilding in the Chaos Walking trilogy actually remind of Sharon Shinn's Samaria.

dementedchris said...

I really liked the issues that Knife raises, like the loss of innocence and the measure of manhood (which I thought was shown quite well in Todd's conflicted decisions throughout the story and not just within a central objective of proving one's self), as well as how Noise can inhibit and disconnect relationships. There are lots more other themes that are raised in the subsequent books but I think if you had a hard time connecting with Knife, it may be harder to appreciate the other books. (I think Knife is the 'friendliest' of the trilogy in the way that it follows themes and hehe, cliches, that are common in YA and adventure stories.)

And you like Ender's Game! :) Have you read Orson Scott Card's Enchantment? It's a retelling of Sleeping Beauty in a Russian setting; I know you also appreciate retellings. :)

I hope you like A Monster Calls better. (Yikes, na-dyahe tuloy ako mag-recommend.) I think it's easier to relate to Conor than to Todd. :)

Chachic said...

LOL you Patrick Ness fans are making me feel bad that I didn't love Knife! I did say I liked it, I just wasn't blown away like the rest of you. And based on the comments on my review, other people are still going to pick up the book because (or should I say "in spite of"?) what I said.

Yep, both Ender's Game and Enchantment are in my list of favorites: Those are the only two Orson Scott Card books that I've read although I have a copy of Speaker of the Dead because they say it's amazing too.

Tina said...

I'm glad to hear you loved this one! Makes me more excited to crack my copy open. =D

dementedchris said...

Oh no, I really don't want you to feel bad!!! Ayan, triple exclam so you'll know how bad I feel for making you feel that way. :( I really have a tendency to go on incessantly without thinking haha.

Thanks again for the copy! I didn't expect that it would be hardbound so it was extra awesome.

Tin said...

Hey, I didn't know you made a "not a review" review of The Monster Calls! You've made the proverbial itch for this book worse.*scratch scratch*
I love your post. (I said post not review :P)