Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick NessA Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Published by Walker Books, Limited
Published on 1st July 2015 (originally 5th May 2011)
Genres: Adolescence, Death & Dying, Young Adult
Pages: 214
Format: Paperback
Source: Walker Books Australia
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5 Stars

The bestselling novel about love, loss and hope from the twice Carnegie Medal-winning Patrick Ness.

Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don't quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there's a visitor at his window. It's ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

Patrick Ness takes the final idea of the late, award-winning writer Siobhan Dowd and weaves an extraordinary and heartbreaking tale of mischief, healing and above all, the courage it takes to survive.

I received a copy of this book from Walker Books Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Conor’s been having the nightmare ever since his mum got sick, but when the monster shows up, it’s not the one he’s expecting, and it wants something he’s not willing to give…


I don’t read many books by male authors, but Conor is one of the more believable boy characters I’ve read. He’s angry and sullen and doesn’t communicate very well, in denial and unwilling to talk about certain things.

My main issue is that he’s supposed to be thirteen years old yet the adults around him all treat him like he’s much younger. This isn’t an issue in the book, but it seems like he’s supposed to be ‘independent’ when he makes his own breakfast or sees himself off to school, like if his mum wasn’t sick she’d be doing that for him. Mollycoddling him like that makes him seem a lot younger than thirteen, which is almost grown-up – more like eight or nine.


Conor’s relationship with the monster is one of the strongest in the book. The monster’s there to help Conor, but he doesn’t see it that way. His relationship with his mother is really beautiful too, and it’s the strength of that and of their love for each other that left me weeping with all the feels. He doesn’t get along with his grandmother at all, which makes their interactions painful, but the fact that everyone treats him as much younger than thirteen doesn’t help.

Including his father, everyone walks on tip-toe around Conor, treating him like he’s fragile or invisible, and forcing him to go to school when he’d be better off spending time with his sick mum. I get the feeling that they do care for him, but his relationship with his dad is made pretty clear when his dad flies back to America because the new wife is freaking out of the baby being sick and leaves Conor, despite his asking if he can come live in America with his father.


emotionally crippled

Does that pretty much sum it up? I was shattered. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – I’d expected a book on sexual assault, not a sick mother. It sucker-punched me and moved me greatly, and the writing was fantastic, as well as the creepy yet beautiful illustrations that accompanied it. I told my husband he HAS to read it (he doesn’t read YA) and I strongly recommend everyone to read this book.


About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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8 thoughts on “Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

  1. aentee

    This book really hits you hard. I read it when it came out, not knowing what it was about and I was not emotionally prepared for it. Unfortunately for my hairdresser, I read it while getting my hair permed so she had to deal with me trying not to cry the whole time.

    aentee recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday: Serpentine
    1. Nemo

      I avoided spoilers so I wasn’t entirely sure what it was about, either. So glad I read it though.

    1. Nemo

      I think it will be AMAZING on the big screen, and it’s scheduled for a 2016 release. Liam Neeson as the monster! He’ll be FABULOUS.

  2. Chiara

    I have heard so many great things about all of Patrick Ness’s books, but I must say that i am most keen to read this one. From everything I have read about it, it sounds like a really emotional read, and I do so love books that can tear into my emotions. AND it’s illustrated, and judging from the cover I’m guessing those illustrations would be beautiful.

    I’m glad you like this one, and you’ve made me even more excited to read it! I must get my hands on a copy ASAP.

    1. Nemo

      The illustrations perfectly compliment the book, although I hear there’s an adult edition without the pictures. It would be like the difference between seeing a film in 2d vs 3d – not entirely necessary, but certainly adds a lot to the viewer experience.

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