A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

A Novel

Book - 2013
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Patrick Ness's Carnegie Medal-winning masterwork is poised to attract a discerning crossover audience.

The monster in Conor's backyard is not the one he's been expecting -- the one from the nightmare he's had every night since his mother started her treatments. This monster is 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.
Publisher: Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2013, c2011
Edition: 1st U.S. pbk. ed
ISBN: 9780763660659
Branch Call Number: YA NES
Characteristics: 204 p. :,ill. ;,21 cm
Additional Contributors: Dowd, Siobhan
Kay, Jim (Illustrator)


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Apr 17, 2021

This is a great read! As an adult I have to wonder why so many "juvenile" books are so much more satisfying and interesting than most 'adult' books. ie: Hunger Games..
I found this little book an easy and interesting read... I've not yet finished it and based on some of the comments I'm not looking forward to the ending but will definitely be checking out more books by Patrick Ness

Apr 16, 2021

Sad and intimate. Powerful art. Not at all what I was expecting from the cover.

Apr 08, 2021

Devasting. If I could only use one word to describe this book it is devasting. I knew it had a sad ending but I had no idea it was going to be like that. I could tell what was coming long before, but then when I got there I had no idea it was going to be like that. I cried, I wept, I sobbed. I haven't been this emotional due to a book in a very long time. A must read.

Books about grief are such a personal thing. In this case, I think Patrick Ness has captured that raw, unutterable pain so perfectly that no matter what a person is grieving, whether a death or a loss of any kind, they will find something of their pain reflected in these pages.

Mar 11, 2021

eBook (seemingly) has illustrations that the physical book completely lacks. eBook 5/5, Book (minus pictures) 4.5/5 (take out the eBook and enjoy the neat pictures!)

FVRL_Maple_Ridge Feb 05, 2021

The Maple Ridge Teen Advisory Group (TAG) recommends this book (October/November 2019). Come into the Maple Ridge branch to learn more about joining TAG!

Jan 27, 2021

In “A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness,13-year-old Conor is going through a difficult patch in his life. With his absent father and mother sick with cancer, Conor is plagued with nightmares. But one nightmare seems particularly too real - it’s the one where the big tree outside turns into a monster. This tree-monster is determined to get Conor to speak the truth, whatever that may be. The monster is quite insistent, even following Conor to his grandma’s house, which is where he must stay when his mother is in the hospital. This causes Conor to have doubts about whether the tree-monster is not just a nightmare, but actually something real. The novel starts off the way a horror story would, the tree-monster being portrayed as this large, frightening being that could easily destroy Conor and his whole world. But as the story progresses, more and more layers of emotion and plot are added. By the end, the book is much more than just a simple horror story.

Personally, I thought the imagery and descriptions throughout the book were beautiful. The illustrations scattered throughout the book allowed me to more vividly imagine the story, which was nice. Overall, the story is quite depressing, so it should not be taken lightly. It touches on deep topics such as grief and loss and is able to express them in a heartfelt way. I can see myself reading this book over and over again - it was extremely relatable and was able to correctly explain difficult topics. If you’re looking for an emotional read, this would
definitely be a good book. I also learned some life lessons and gained good advice from what the tree-monster told Conor throughout the book. All in all, the book is a must-read for fans of angst and crying.

Jul 17, 2020

A beautiful story. I have never lost someone close to me but this book allowed me a glimpse into what depths grief and guilt take hold on a person when they do lose someone.

Jul 10, 2020

This book is well-written. I think it might scare some kids though. I found it a bit dark and hard to read at times because of that.

A book hasn’t made me cry like this in YEARS. It took me altogether too many hours of sobbing and hugging my dog before I could sleep after finishing this one.

Conor has a relatively happy life with his mum. His dad lives in America, and he doesn't get along with his grandma. But Conor's mum is sick; she's going through treatments and is weak and poorly all the time. Conor knows she'll get better - she has to - and when a monster comes walking in the middle of the night to see him, he knows that he's there to help her do just that. Or is he?

Books about grief are such a personal thing. In this case, I think Patrick Ness has captured that raw, unutterable pain so perfectly that no matter what a person is grieving, whether a death or a loss of any kind, they will find something of their pain reflected in these pages. As always, his writing is beautiful, the imagery stunning, and the illustrations only add to that. It's a harrowing journey, these 200 pages, and the bleak yet beautiful nature of both the words themselves and the images complementing them create an experience unlike anything I've ever read before.

I'm finding this hard to review, actually, just because I felt it so deeply. I think that's a case for a lot of people, and it's why this has become such a classic. It's a challenging read, but my god, it's so superbly done. It's cathartic and tragic and even healing as it shows how one boy deals with his unending grief and works on moving forward.

It's going to be in my heart forever.

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Jan 27, 2021

abbiecochran thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Oct 07, 2015

VV12 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

sienna_volpe May 30, 2015

sienna_volpe thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

Kristen MERKE
May 11, 2013

Kristen MERKE thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jul 24, 2012

Hannah03 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Apr 28, 2012

Rilelen thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

zackids Jul 19, 2011

zackids thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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SeWi00404 May 05, 2015

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, is about a boy named Conor O'Malley, who so far, has had a pretty bad life in general. His mom has cancer, his dad left them for another woman, he gets bullied at school, and has a reoccurring nightmare. On top of all this, Conor is also being visited by a monster, who is actually a yew tree in the cemetery across the street. The monster says it is going to tell Conor three stories over a period of time, and after all of the stories have been told, Conor will tell him a fourth. The same thing that has been invading his dreams ever since his mom started her treatments. The Nightmare. In this book, Ness defines what teenagers lives are like. Scary, emotional, angry, angst ridden, and ominous. With captivating pictures on almost every page, Ness tells it like it is. I give this book four out of five stars, and recommend it to people who are having a rough life.

Jan 24, 2014

A monster calls is about a 13 year old boy named Conor O’Malley has a reoccurring nightmare about a specific monster he can’t get rid of. One night at seven minutes past twelve a monster paid him a visit. The monster wasn’t the one from the nightmare, this monster was the Yew tree from the cemetery across the street. At first Conor thought it was just a figure of his imagination but every time he “woke up” there was some evidence that the monster was real. One time he woke up and stepped in Yew leaves and another time he needed to cut out a sapling from the floorboards in his bedroom. The monster wants one thing from Conor and it wants the truth. The monster would tell Conor three stories for a fourth in return and that story was Conor’s worst nightmare. The way Patrick Ness describes the similarities between characters instead of their differences makes the reader realize that not all characters have to be different and that some characters may be closer than you realize. The technique is very effective especially in this book. Two physically different characters, such as a thirteen year old boy and a Yew tree that is also a monster, can be so close emotionally or mentally just by sharing some experiences and overcoming challenges together. A Monster Calls had both internal and external conflict throughout the story and a great balance of each conflict. At the beginning when the characters’ lives were separate there was more external conflict and in the end when the characters were closer bonded there was more internal conflict with the main characters. Having a connection with the characters can make a story more relatable. In some cases the characters need to be different to continue the story line but sometimes there needs to be the characters that have almost everything in common because they reflect their feelings off each other and this makes it easier to relate to how the characters are actually feeling. Overall I think that this story was beautifully written and I would recommend it to anyone.

Oct 23, 2012

Heavily illustrated with dark, realistic sketches. Conor suffers with terrible nightmares of a monster, deals with bullies and isolation at school, and tries to believe his mum when she says her cancer treatments are working. Then the giant yew tree out in the yard becomes a monster who haunts Conor with daytime dreams, telling him 3 parables and requiring Conor to tell the 4th story - his own - himself.

Mar 24, 2012

Thirteen-year-old Conor O’Malley isn’t having an easy time. When he’s asleep, he has nightmares. When he’s at school, he’s bullied. And at home, he watches his mother grow weaker every day as her cancer and treatments vie for control of her body. His grandmother, whom he detests, is talking about him moving in with her, while his father keeps him at a safe distance from his new family. So when the giant yew tree in the graveyard behind Conor’s house twists itself into a monster and comes looking for him, it seems like just one more thing to deal with; until it demands from him the one thing too terrifying to face – the truth.

This is a dense, complex and multilayered book that constantly challenges the reader‘s intellect, morality and sense of reality. The monster, in classic fairy tale fashion, promises to visit Conor three times before returning to extract his due. Early on, the reader shares Conor’s confusion as he struggles to determine whether the monster’s visit was real or merely another dream. The author boldly strews ambiguity throughout the book like the yew needles scattered across Conor’s bedroom floor the morning after the first visitation. Each time the monster comes walking he tells Conor a story, ingenious tales with surprise endings and twists that defy prediction, giving the reader the sense of a rug pulled out from under them. The stories, deceptively simplistic, resemble Conor’s life, where nothing makes sense and nothing is fair. The reader’s understanding of the monster as internal or external, real or imagined, enemy or ally, changes dramatically as the story progresses. This is a book to ponder, to linger over, perhaps even to argue with.

Conor, his family and their circumstances are fully fleshed out and believable. Ness brilliantly succeeds at the task of having the reader fill in the spaces in the narrative with their own emotions rather than simply telling us what his character feels. Pain, panic, fury and guilt are explored in this story where the only ray of light is the love between a mother and her son that is about to be extinguished on one end. The amount of personal growth Conor achieves in a short space of time is staggering, moving through the stages of grief compounded by youthful dependence and the everyday cruelties of high school and broken families. When he gathers his courage at the end of the book, it is with a new, hard-won maturity that gives us hope for his future.

“A Monster Calls” is stunningly illustrated in black-and-white by Jim Kay, adding immensely to the tone of the book. The extensive decorations and pictures, some appearing as negatives with transposed colours, are surreal and nightmarish. Leaving this volume lying about the house would prove irresistible for a teen. In addition to its striking physical appearance the original storyline, powerful drama and conflict will appeal to readers, while many teens will identify with Conor’s struggles with bullying and his step-family, his fight for acceptance, and capacity for conflicting feelings. This book’s message that actions are more important than words or thoughts is both reassuring and a call to arms for readers of all ages.


The monster comes at 12:07. It would probably be easier for everyone, the monster included, if Conor were afraid of it, but he isn’t. Conor’s afraid of much worse things at the moment. His mom has cancer and this time the treatments don’t seem to be working as well as they have in the past. He’s plagued by a nightmare so awful he believes that no one else ever need know of it. Bullies at school pound him regularly, his grandmother is annoying, and his dad lives with a different family in America. The crazy thing is that Conor kind of wants to be punished, but the monster has a different purpose in mind. It’s going to tell him three stories and when it’s done Conor will tell him a fourth. A fourth that is the truth and also the last thing he’d ever want to say.

zackids Jul 19, 2011

Night after night, Connor is woken by the same nightmare, “the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming. The one with the hands slipping from his grasp, no matter who hard he tried to hold on.” It is one night, after waking from this nightmare, that the monster arrives, twisting to life from the yew tree in the graveyard. The monster comes to offer Connor a deal; it will tell Connor three stories, but then he must tell the monster a fourth story, and it must be the truth. However, Connor’s mum is very sick and the truth is the thing that he fears the worst.


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Stories are important, the monster said. They can be more important than anything. If they carry the truth.

Jan 03, 2018

You do not write your life with words, the monster said. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.


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