Patrick Ness's expansion and completion of Siobhan Dowd's story concept, in conjunction with Jim Kay's gorgeous illustrations, unite to form one of the best novels I have read this year. The book is further proof that the young adult market is enticing some of today's most talented writers. Yes, A Monster Calls
is a narrative filled with magic, but the meaning behind that magic extends way beyond a traditional fantasy narrative.
Thirteen-year-old Conor O'Malley has been having some pretty vivid dreams - but even though his visions of a looming, talking yew tree are disrupting his sleep (and sometimes his waking hours), he is relieved that they're not as scary as another, more terrifying nightmare that keeps recurring - the one that started when his mother got sick, the one he desperately tries to ignore.
In between some fairly typical elements of young...
Beyond the Book
The seed for A Monster Calls
came from Siobhan Dowd (pronounced sh-vawn), a gifted writer who earned critical and popular success for her young adult fiction and received much praise for her work speaking out against censorship. She brought authors into underprivileged schools, made literature accessible to children around the globe, and led numerous community projects.
Her first novel, A Swift Pure Cry
(2006), was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize and the BookTrust Teenage Prize, and her subsequent novels - The London Eye Mystery
(2007), Bog Child
(2008), and Solace of the...