“There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between.”
― Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls
When I chose to read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, I was essentially choosing to leap away from the style of storytelling I was used to. Trying something new in this particular case was well worth it. The story is told in third person along with illustrations that set a gloomy mood with their mix of grays. At this point, knowing this information would make people assume it’s only a children’s book with hardly any complexity. I won’t deny that the book is mostly catered for a young adult audience since it’s about a thirteen year old boy named Conor, but adults can still enjoy this book just as much because the illustrations work wonderfully with the text. They somehow pulled me more into the story because they weren’t your typical drawings.
The illustrations surround the text, making sure that they aren’t looked at separately from the words or as an afterthought. Within these drawings and text is the story of a boy who’s already somewhat of an adult because of the situation he’s put in. Though the specific illness is never explicitly mentioned, based on the treatments, I assumed his mother has some type of cancer. Yet, that is only part of the story.
Almost always at 12:07 AM, a yew tree awakens with the spirit of an ancient monster and comes seeking Conor. He demands that Conor speak the truth, but first the monster must tell him three stories. As I tried to figure out Conor’s big secret—the truth he hides from even himself—the story enveloped me in its short amount of pages, making me sympathize with Conor, and wanting to discover the mystery of the walking tree. In the end, I was able to pull out more knowledge than some might expect from an assumed children’s book.
If you wish to buy this particular edition, I purchased the paperback from Barnes & Noble for $8.99.
Yousra Medhkour is Layali’s Reviews blogger. She is a senior at the University of Toledo. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of English, with a concentration in creative writing, and a minor in Studio Art. She spends her free time reading countless books, a hobby that nurtured her love for words. With this passion of hers, Yousra aspires to become a published author.