Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness (from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd)
Illustrator: Jim Kay
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Children’s
Published: 27th September 2011
Publisher: Walker Books
Format: Illustrated Paperback
“Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?”
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.
But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.
It certainly took me long enough to finally get to this book, and I am so glad that I did! A Monster Calls was beautiful, painful and emotional, and gripped hold of heart from start to finish. It refused to let me put it down, even for a minute, until I had devoured each and every word inside. I was flipping through the pages so fast that before I knew it, I had finished the book in less than 2 hours.
A Monster Calls is a truly moving story, about the power of stories, and about the truth of pain and hurt. It follows Conor, a young boy facing one of the most terrible things to happen to any of us, and a monster, who comes to visit him at night with stories. Each character in this book is fully fleshed out through Conor’s perspective, in a way that lets the reader know that there is more to everyone than the reader can see. There are characters to love and characters to hate, but every one of them feels real,
The structure of the story is mostly plotted around the monster’s visits to Conor, and the stories that he tells. Each of these tales seems to have the moral that not everything is good or evil, or black and white. That people and things can be both. At first I didn’t quite see the relevance of these stories to the wider plot, but by the end, they seem to fit so perfectly into the situation that Conor is in, that they become so poignant and moving. A Monster Calls, is a story about stories, which is, to say, my favourite kind of story!
I thought that the movie was a very faithful and beautiful adaptation of the story. It kept to the same plot throughout, and the characters were acted out almost exactly as I envisioned them whilst reading the book.
I was a big fan of the use and style of animation used for the monster’s stories. It was magical and whimsical, and reminded me a lot of the style of animation used in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which I always felt was the right amount creepy but magical. The use of colour in this animation was also brilliant. It all just added something really special to the film.
The actors also displayed the emotion of the characters and story very well. I promised myself that I wouldn’t cry again, but ended up tearing up even more than I did when reading the book. There was something about seeing this story acted out so well, that affected me even more than reading it, at times.
There were certain parts of the story that were omitted, that I had really wished were included. There was a certain friendship in the book that I wished had been included in the movie, for instance. But overall, it retained the majority of the book’s content, in a way that felt both the same and refreshing.
Overall, it was a really great adaptation. Although I did prefer the book to the movie (which is almost always a given), this was not to an overtly greater extent! They were both so wonderful, and the film was such a great and faithful adaptation. If you read and loved the book, then I think that you would love the film. And if you haven’t done either; the film is such a fantastic adaptation that I believe you could read/watch in any order.