Sunday, 16 June 2013

80 Books No.39: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

I'm usually pretty reserved on these blogs. Maybe it's because I've been writing them days and sometimes weeks after I've read them, maybe it's because most books don't knock me over sideways, maybe it's because I'm a miserable cow. However, no more. Because I'm going to be enthusiastic.

Oh dear God, this book was good. Like, could hardly put it down good and wanted to know more good and I just have to share this book with somebody GOOD.

On paper, it doesn't sound like a particularly amazing book: a boy's mum has cancer and a monster arrives in order to help him to deal with it. So far, so depressing and all-too-real version of The BFG. However, if you know anything about children's literature, just the names associated with this should get your heart racing. The original idea was Siobhan Dowd's, author of four novels and posthumous winner of the Carnegie Award. She never got a chance to write this novel; she died at the age of forty-seven of cancer. The idea though was noted down in quite a lot of detail and so her agents and publishers looked for somebody to complete it. Enter Patrick Ness, author of the Chaos Walking trilogy - which is basically a Hunger Games-esque series with a male narrator. Admittedly the trilogy did tail off somewhat, much like The Hunger Games, but the first one was absolutely amazing. Given all of this, and even given that I wasn't hugely enamoured with some of Dowd's writing, it's surprising it's taken me this long to get around to reading this one.

There is so much depth in this novel that I can't really do it justice. It's dark and truthful and a bit scary and uplifting and comforting in many different ways. It's the sort of book you don't come across very often and the sort of book that I so want my students to read. This is a definite contender for being whacked on the curriculum next year; I just need to convince other people of that!

Oh, and the illustrations in this are incredible too. Just in case you're somebody who likes pictures.

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