A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness (2011)

Genre: Speculative Fiction
Interest level: 12-18
A Monster CallsAbsolutely remarkable, creepy and touching story of a 13-year-old boy who faces his deepest fears and shame as he copes with the horror of watching his mother die of cancer. For Conor, the horror comes in the form of a monster emerging from a yew tree in his back yard, a monster that tells stories, destroys things, and leaves evidence behind to make Conor question both his reality and dreams. It’s also illustrated – not like a graphic novel, but a narrative novel made more eloquent with dark, smoky images that depict what Conor sees. Ness slowly allows Conor to understand the truth of his monster, and pulls no punches as he describes the young teen’s pain at home and at school. The genesis of this YA novel is interesting – the idea came from notes by the late Siobhan Dowd, given a new twist and brought to life by Ness, and illustrated by Jim Kay. If this novella (it’s 105 pages, including illustrations) doesn’t rip at your heart, you obviously don’t have one. A strong contender for the best YA book I’ve read in the past year.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8621462-a-monster-calls


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