This is a review of a good book, not because I’m getting paid or getting anything out of it, but because it’s great and you should give it a chance.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is a hard book to read. I picked it up because I kept seeing it recommended and the premise seemed interesting. The writing is a little simplistic at times and it’s a shorter book, but I consider those good things and the prose manages to also be lyrical, almost like poetry.

It’s about loss, death, fear and the pretty lies we tell ourselves to get through all three of those things. The honesty is brutal. The pain that Conor, the main character, goes through is something that reaches out to burrow into you, the reader.

The main character is hurting and does many terrible things to people trying to be nice to him. Being so full of hurt you want to rip into someone else is not a good excuse, but it is a reason.

So why read it, if it’s so dark? Because it’s true. Everyone has felt pain like Conor’s and will feel it again, before they cause it. Everyone has lied to themselves like Conor has. And it’s a book full of hope. I’d recommend it for anyone going through a hard time, dealing with a loss, or feeling the need for a little hope.

Nothing in it turns out to be what you expect (except for the fact that Conor’s mom has cancer. That you figure out early on, even though no one in the entire book ever says the word ‘cancer’.)

The monster from the title comes to Conor to tell him three stories. They’re not what you think they will be when you start reading them. And the reason Conor needs to hear them isn’t what you guess at first. I kept reading to understand all of the many unexpected things Ness puts in there, and he ties it all up for you at the end. He leaves you with a way through the pain, which you learn along with Conor.

Just to whet your appetite, I’ll leave you with a quote from the book:

Stories are the wildest thing of all, the monster rumbled. Stories chase and bite and hunt.

‘That’s what teachers always say,’ Conor said. ‘No one believes them either.’

And when I have finished my three stories, the monster said, as if Conor hadn’t spoken, you will tell me a fourth.

Conor squirmed in the monster’s hand. ‘I’m no good at stories.’

You will tell me a fourth, the monster repeated, and it will be the truth.”

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, p. 38