A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

Book - 2011
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Thirteen-year-old Conor awakens one night to find a monster outside his bedroom window, but not the one from the recurring nightmare that began when his mother became ill--an ancient, wild creature that wants him to face truth and loss.
Publisher: Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2011
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780763655594
Branch Call Number: TEEN NES
Characteristics: 204 p. : ill. 22 cm


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Oct 04, 2018

What a beautiful book! I sought it out after seeing the lovely film version and the original book is just as amazing. The prose is lyrical without unnecessary floridness and the characters are multi-facted. Though it is a sad book, one that had me crying more than once, at the end of the day it's ultimately about healing and love. I expect it will be a classic in the years to come.

Jun 17, 2018

This book is exceptionally well written and illustrated. It will leave you in tears, perhaps repeatedly.

Jun 05, 2018

I read this book several years ago, but the emotional impact still resonates...in particular, the story of the things that a person will do to avoid the reality of a suffering loved one, is something I can relate to.

May 22, 2018

This is not an easy story to read ....
The boy at the centre of the story is suffering from a recurring nightmare, but the nightmare takes a bizarre twist when a tree comes to life and threatens him with the worst thing possible - acknowledgement of the truth - the truth about his mother's illness.

Apr 22, 2018

Sometimes terrible things happen.

Sometimes miracles happen.

Sometimes it's hard to tell which is which.

Sometimes they're both necessary, and sometimes they're one and the same.

"Stories are the wildest things of all"

Amazing and heart-wrenching, this book is one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. It was not what I was expecting. This book itself was a miracle; it simply appeared on my bookshelf one day—I didn't get this book, but there it was, on my shelf, staring at me as I slept; not there one day, but there the next. I'm still not sure how it happened. You know that phenomenon where once you notice something, it suddenly becomes ubiquitous, as if it is haunting you? As if it hadn't existed before but now exists everywhere? My sister mentioned this book to me, said that she read it with some friends and that it was amazing, and then there it was, waiting for me, as if placed there by some unseen chaotic neutral entity, meant to tell me a story of complex humanity.

"You do not write your life with words, the monster said. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do."

This book broke me and restored me. I haven't cried this much over a book in a long time. It is poignant and profound. I needed this. I still need this. This book contains in 205 pages more soul and meaning than many books accomplish in 600+ pages, and half of it is pictures (which are phenomenal, by the way; props to Jim Kay for tearing my soul out with ink). I will re-read this until I die, probably, and can't recommend it enough. If you're human, or even a monster as they're often the same, this is the book for you.

"If you speak the truth, the monster whispered in his ear, you will be able to face whatever comes."

SPPL_Violet Mar 17, 2018

Beautiful and haunting; a story about a boy dealing with a difficult situation.

Feb 10, 2018

This book covers a situation I went through with my mom but as an adult. Age is irrelevant though because the mindset and emotional arc that Conor goes through are universal. Yes, the truth will set you free but the truth is also a monster because it forces you to face ugly realities. This may be classified as a YA story but it is a universal one too.

Jan 06, 2018

A Monster Calls is a beautiful story about a boy struggling to cope with his mother's impending death. The writing was wonderful (there were lyrical AND lighthearted parts to it). The dark illustrations perfectly matched with the story. They properly evoked a sense of foreboding. The ending was priceless (I wept openly). Overall, A Monster Calls is the perfect book for healing and learning to confront the truth.

Jan 03, 2018

An excellent book for all ages. Some good life lessons in it, and a very moving ending.

Oct 17, 2017

Book was better than the movie.

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Oct 07, 2015

VV12 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

May 30, 2015

sienna_volpe thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

Kristen MERKE
May 11, 2013

Kristen MERKE thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jul 24, 2012

Hannah03 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Apr 28, 2012

Rilelen thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

zackids Jul 19, 2011

zackids thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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SeWi00404 May 05, 2015

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, is about a boy named Conor O'Malley, who so far, has had a pretty bad life in general. His mom has cancer, his dad left them for another woman, he gets bullied at school, and has a reoccurring nightmare. On top of all this, Conor is also being visited by a monster, who is actually a yew tree in the cemetery across the street. The monster says it is going to tell Conor three stories over a period of time, and after all of the stories have been told, Conor will tell him a fourth. The same thing that has been invading his dreams ever since his mom started her treatments. The Nightmare. In this book, Ness defines what teenagers lives are like. Scary, emotional, angry, angst ridden, and ominous. With captivating pictures on almost every page, Ness tells it like it is. I give this book four out of five stars, and recommend it to people who are having a rough life.

Jan 24, 2014

A monster calls is about a 13 year old boy named Conor O’Malley has a reoccurring nightmare about a specific monster he can’t get rid of. One night at seven minutes past twelve a monster paid him a visit. The monster wasn’t the one from the nightmare, this monster was the Yew tree from the cemetery across the street. At first Conor thought it was just a figure of his imagination but every time he “woke up” there was some evidence that the monster was real. One time he woke up and stepped in Yew leaves and another time he needed to cut out a sapling from the floorboards in his bedroom. The monster wants one thing from Conor and it wants the truth. The monster would tell Conor three stories for a fourth in return and that story was Conor’s worst nightmare. The way Patrick Ness describes the similarities between characters instead of their differences makes the reader realize that not all characters have to be different and that some characters may be closer than you realize. The technique is very effective especially in this book. Two physically different characters, such as a thirteen year old boy and a Yew tree that is also a monster, can be so close emotionally or mentally just by sharing some experiences and overcoming challenges together. A Monster Calls had both internal and external conflict throughout the story and a great balance of each conflict. At the beginning when the characters’ lives were separate there was more external conflict and in the end when the characters were closer bonded there was more internal conflict with the main characters. Having a connection with the characters can make a story more relatable. In some cases the characters need to be different to continue the story line but sometimes there needs to be the characters that have almost everything in common because they reflect their feelings off each other and this makes it easier to relate to how the characters are actually feeling. Overall I think that this story was beautifully written and I would recommend it to anyone.

Oct 23, 2012

Heavily illustrated with dark, realistic sketches. Conor suffers with terrible nightmares of a monster, deals with bullies and isolation at school, and tries to believe his mum when she says her cancer treatments are working. Then the giant yew tree out in the yard becomes a monster who haunts Conor with daytime dreams, telling him 3 parables and requiring Conor to tell the 4th story - his own - himself.

Mar 24, 2012

Thirteen-year-old Conor O’Malley isn’t having an easy time. When he’s asleep, he has nightmares. When he’s at school, he’s bullied. And at home, he watches his mother grow weaker every day as her cancer and treatments vie for control of her body. His grandmother, whom he detests, is talking about him moving in with her, while his father keeps him at a safe distance from his new family. So when the giant yew tree in the graveyard behind Conor’s house twists itself into a monster and comes looking for him, it seems like just one more thing to deal with; until it demands from him the one thing too terrifying to face – the truth.

This is a dense, complex and multilayered book that constantly challenges the reader‘s intellect, morality and sense of reality. The monster, in classic fairy tale fashion, promises to visit Conor three times before returning to extract his due. Early on, the reader shares Conor’s confusion as he struggles to determine whether the monster’s visit was real or merely another dream. The author boldly strews ambiguity throughout the book like the yew needles scattered across Conor’s bedroom floor the morning after the first visitation. Each time the monster comes walking he tells Conor a story, ingenious tales with surprise endings and twists that defy prediction, giving the reader the sense of a rug pulled out from under them. The stories, deceptively simplistic, resemble Conor’s life, where nothing makes sense and nothing is fair. The reader’s understanding of the monster as internal or external, real or imagined, enemy or ally, changes dramatically as the story progresses. This is a book to ponder, to linger over, perhaps even to argue with.

Conor, his family and their circumstances are fully fleshed out and believable. Ness brilliantly succeeds at the task of having the reader fill in the spaces in the narrative with their own emotions rather than simply telling us what his character feels. Pain, panic, fury and guilt are explored in this story where the only ray of light is the love between a mother and her son that is about to be extinguished on one end. The amount of personal growth Conor achieves in a short space of time is staggering, moving through the stages of grief compounded by youthful dependence and the everyday cruelties of high school and broken families. When he gathers his courage at the end of the book, it is with a new, hard-won maturity that gives us hope for his future.

“A Monster Calls” is stunningly illustrated in black-and-white by Jim Kay, adding immensely to the tone of the book. The extensive decorations and pictures, some appearing as negatives with transposed colours, are surreal and nightmarish. Leaving this volume lying about the house would prove irresistible for a teen. In addition to its striking physical appearance the original storyline, powerful drama and conflict will appeal to readers, while many teens will identify with Conor’s struggles with bullying and his step-family, his fight for acceptance, and capacity for conflicting feelings. This book’s message that actions are more important than words or thoughts is both reassuring and a call to arms for readers of all ages.


The monster comes at 12:07. It would probably be easier for everyone, the monster included, if Conor were afraid of it, but he isn’t. Conor’s afraid of much worse things at the moment. His mom has cancer and this time the treatments don’t seem to be working as well as they have in the past. He’s plagued by a nightmare so awful he believes that no one else ever need know of it. Bullies at school pound him regularly, his grandmother is annoying, and his dad lives with a different family in America. The crazy thing is that Conor kind of wants to be punished, but the monster has a different purpose in mind. It’s going to tell him three stories and when it’s done Conor will tell him a fourth. A fourth that is the truth and also the last thing he’d ever want to say.

zackids Jul 19, 2011

Night after night, Connor is woken by the same nightmare, “the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming. The one with the hands slipping from his grasp, no matter who hard he tried to hold on.” It is one night, after waking from this nightmare, that the monster arrives, twisting to life from the yew tree in the graveyard. The monster comes to offer Connor a deal; it will tell Connor three stories, but then he must tell the monster a fourth story, and it must be the truth. However, Connor’s mum is very sick and the truth is the thing that he fears the worst.


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Jan 03, 2018

You do not write your life with words, the monster said. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.


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