A Monster Calls Book Review

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness Book Review

Patrick Ness is the author of the extremely popular Chaos Walking series which I adored. When I saw his book A Monster Calls, I immediately shelved it as a book I would eventually read, but never did get around to it – until recently. I picked it up when I saw this fantastic movie trailer. I have not seen the movie yet, but I plan to take my children just as soon as my son finishes reading the book which I’ve passed on to him. Walker Books | 2011 | Hardcover | 216 pp

Take a look at the trailer.

First, buy the tissues. Then get cozy with the book. You can easily read this in one sitting as it’s fit for middle grade readers and above.

Conor is a young boy who’s feeling isolated and lonely. His mother is dying from cancer, he is relentlessly tortured by bullies at school, his real father is off in America with a new family, his grandmother is irksome, and he’s a social pariah with everyone walking on eggshells around him. No one sees him.

His biggest problem is his internal struggle with emotions while he denies himself the truth, a truth that is played out over and over in his recurring nightmares. He doesn’t want to admit it, and he won’t – until a Monster comes calling. That Monster only wants the truth from Conor – and it demands nothing but the truth.

Sprung from the old yew tree in his backyard, the Monster always comes at exactly 12:07. Over the course of several weeks, it tells Conor three tales about those who had called the Monster before him – three tales involving that old yew tree. Conor must complete his time with the Monster by telling it the fourth story, and his great truth.

A Monster Calls is not a horror story, but a tale of the imperfections and beauty of the human spirit. It is a tale of truth and life and honesty. This tale explains that we don’t always get a happy ending because that is life – and life isn’t always happy. People aren’t perfect, heroes can be bad, bad people can be heroic, and bad things happen to good people. This is a story that will make you weep in the end, and that’s not always a bad thing either.

A great story to foster empathy in young readers.


A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls




Rebecca Skane

Rebecca Skane is the editor-in-chief for the Portsmouth Review. She holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree from Lawrence University in Wisconsin and resides in Portsmouth, NH with her husband and two children. She is the founder of The Portsmouth Book Club which boasts over 1,000 members. She also doubles as a professional escapist. Her genres are scifi and fantasy, both adult and young adult – but she often reads outside of her preferred genres. You can follow her on GoodReads. Aside from her love of good books, she is a professional website developer, content editor, and SEO expert. You can visit her web design and development site at RebeccaSkane.com.


  • Agreed, I really loved this one too. Not sure if I’ll get chance to see the movie for now, though. Maybe on DVD…

  • Great review! I love this book, especially the illustrations. It was one of my favorites last year.

  • Dena

    This is yet another book on my eternally long TBR list. I actually checked it out of hte library the other day, but I couldn’t get it read before I had to take it back. 🙁

    I want to read it before I see the movie, though!

    • Definitely check it out again because this is a read-in-one-sitting book. And still amazingly powerful for such a quick read!

  • Last year I read Dahl’s The BFG and this one slightly reminds me of that, not exactly but it has two big creatures & lonely protagonists, & recent movies. This one sounds good too.

    • I didn’t see the BFG or read it so I can’t give you a comparison. I should get to that one. 🙂

  • Great review, Rebecca! I have this on my TBR but I don’t know if I’ll ever get to it. I didn’t particularly like The Knife of Never Letting Go or Ness’s standalone The Rest of Us Just Live Here. I think he might not be the author for me. But all the hype around the movie, and now your review… I dunno. It might be worth the shot. 🙂

    • I’ll have to say that this is completely different from The Knife of Never Letting Go. The Chaos Walking trilogy is geared toward the YA hype crowd. I love those books (because I refuse to grow up) but this one is very, very different. It is MG, yet it’s so very powerful. Quick read so give it a whirl.

  • Oh yes, I’m sure not a dry eye exists for readers of this one! I’m cautiously hopeful that the movie will pack as much of an emotional punch as the book.

  • I actually can’t stop thinking about it. I might have to upgrade to 5 stars.

  • Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    I definitely assumed this was a horror story until recently and then I watched the trailer and now I want to read this, so badly! I need to bump it up my TBR! I haven’t had much luck with Ness’s books in the past but this seems too good to pass up! Wonderful review!

    • Same exact thing. Thought it was a horror until I saw the trailer. And reading it was just a wonderful experience.

  • I’ve heard so much about both the book and the movie that I really want to read this one soon. It sounds like such a moving story about coming of age and the imperfections that humans can have. I can’t wait to read it!

    • I still haven’t seen the movie but this book – wow, what an emotionally moving gem! Hope you get to see/read it!

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