Book Club Pick: July 2020
Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness. From an original idea by Siobhan Dowd
Series: Stand alone novel
Country: Great Britain
Publisher: Walker Books
First Published: 2011
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.
Last month the Old Vic made their 2018 production A Monster Calls available for a week on their YouTube channel. After watching it I borrowed the book from my library.
Siobhan Dowd initially conceived the idea of a young boy coming to terms with his mother’s illness while diagnosed with breast cancer. It would have been Dowd’s fifth book but she passed away 21 August 2007 before writing the story. Her publisher Walker Books approached Patrick Ness to write the novel.
A Monster Calls follows thirteen-year-old Conor O’Malley, who is struggling to cope with the diagnosis of his mother’s cancer.
Conor is also facing other challenges. He is being bullied at school, has a distant father living in the United States with a new family, and a strained relationship with his Grandmother who has come to help look after Conor’s mum.
He has been having nightmares. At seven minutes past midnight Conor awakes to a voice calling him from outside his bedroom window. There is a monster that has taken form from the branches and leaves as a yew tree.
The monster tells Conor that he will tell him three stories, and then Conor must tell his story.
A Monster Calls is a poignant exploration of terminal illness, grief and truth.
The novel was also adapted into a 2016 film with Ness also writing the screenplay. The film was directed by J. A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) and starred Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Lewis MacDougall, and Liam Neeson.
I borrowed this book from my public library.