I have to warn you, my dear reader, that I am going to rave to the obnoxious level. Because A Monster Calls is that kind of a book. Moving, unsettling, introspective, and beautiful. Just so beautiful.
Nothing goes right in the life of Conor. The 13-year-old boy wakes up from a nightmare that paralyses him almost every night. His mother — a divorcee — battles cancer, but tries hard to make everything seem normal for Conor. When her battle gets tougher, she seeks her mother’s help. Conor detest’s his grandmother. And, the unsolicited sympathy that he receives from his teachers and classmates irks him. He hates everything about his life, and as though adding insult to injury, a monster enters Conor’s life, with a determination to tell Conor three tales. What is the use of listening to three stories, which do not seem to make sense, when one’s life is crumbling? Conor lives through the tales, only to learn about himself at the end. Ah, the end! One of the most beautiful climaxes I have ever read.
As Conor learns about some of the complex things of life, as everything makes sense to him, some sort of different understanding about life dawns on me too. I keep telling him, “Been there, done that, Conor.”
Maybe, just maybe, we all have been in Conor’s place. We have been torn between two things, and kicked ourselves hard about giving room for some thoughts at all. While I try hard to refrain from revealing anything more, I think Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls is one of the best things that has happened to me this year. It’s one of those books that is light, but profound. (Sorry, I had to employ that oxymoron.) 🙂
Some favourite passages here:
“But what is a dream, Conor O’Malley? the monster said, bending down so its face was close to Conor’s. Who is to say that it is not everything else that is the dream?”
“Stories are the wildest things of all, the monster rumbled. Stories chase and bite and hunt.”
“There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between.”
“Belief is half of all healing. Belief in the cure, belief in the future that awaits.”
“The answer is that it does not matter what you think, the monster said, because your mind will contradict itself a hundred times each day… Your mind will believe comforting lies while also knowing the painful truths that make those lies necessary. And your mind will punish you for believing both.”
“You do not write your life with words… You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.”