Sunday, January 1, 2012

#1 A Monster Calls

A Monster CallsA Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've had the thought before, and I believe it is true that the value of a book can be measured by the journey that its reader takes while reading it. Thus, I can really only say how valuable a book is to me. A Monster Calls has taken me on a short journey (I've read it over the course of just more than a day) but it has been an unusually deep one.

Conor O'Malley's mother is dying, but no one dares talk about it in front of him. What's worse, Conor can't tell himself that she is dying and  that's just the first layer of truths that Conor isn't admitting--can't admit--to himself.

Patrick Ness depicts vividly and accurately the emotions of an adolescent boy dealing with the looming death of his mother but it's not just a picture of painful emotion that Ness gives us. His story also offers comfort and redemption in the unusual shape of a green woody monster.

Perhaps A Monster Calls is a bit sentimental, but I found none of it trite. The story teams with life, with raw violence of emotion; it is fresh and searing and strange and grotesque and deeply comforting.

Something else to recommend the book: though death (as the main theme) and sex (incidentally) come into the story, they are treated with a reverence unusual in this day that doesn't come off as prudish nor stuffy.

A Monster Calls is a good quick read; but not a light one--especially for anyone who has felt the feelings that Conor does.

I could say more, but that more would delve into the journey that this book took me on; and that journey is more about my own feelings and experiences at my mother's death than anything else. That would be far outside of the intent of a book review such as this one.

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