2016 Library Challenge: A Book A Friend Recommended

A Monster Calls

This coming Sunday is National Friendship Day, and I figured the best way to celebrate was by highlighting the library challenge of reading a book a friend recommended. One of my dear friends, Whitney, told me a few weeks ago that I really needed to read Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls. She also warned me that it deserved an honorary mention for books that will make you cry.  I’m so glad she suggested this book to me because it’s a wonderful read. (Thanks again for the great recommendation, Whitney!)

The author, Patrick Ness, wrote the book based on an idea by Siobhan Dowd, who died before she could tell this story. In it, we meet Conor, a young English boy who lives with his mother, who is suffering from cancer. In his dreams, Conor repeatedly has nightmares about a monster, but that’s not the monster who comes to visit him one night. And this monster has something to offer him, but it wants something from him in return.

I don’t want to talk too much more about the plot because I don’t want to give too much away, but what I really enjoyed about the book was how unique and complex it was. I’ve read my fair share of books that are tearjerkers, and I honestly have a low tolerance for anything I consider manipulative or sappy. So, I was pleased that this book steers clear of that. It is lovely and heartbreaking, but it never feels forced or manipulative. Also, A Monster Calls isn’t a graphic novel, but it is illustrated. And as much as I loved the story, I also really enjoyed Jim Kay’s artwork. It’s mysterious, haunting, and visually stunning.

Technically, this book is categorized as young adult fiction, but I think its appeal transcends age and classifications. It’s just as meaningful and affecting a story for adults as it is for teens.The film adaptation of the book–starring Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson, and Sigourney Weaver–is also being released this October, so you should definitely read the book in time for the movie. (Watch the trailer here.)

If you’re interested in learning more about this book or would like to check availability and place a hold for it, just visit our online library catalog.

*Ebook also available on Libby.

Recommended for those who enjoy Brenna Yovanoff’s work, Tom McNeal’s Far Far Away,  Kenneth Oppel’s This Dark Endeavor, and Neal Shusterman’s Bruiser.

Have you read A Monster Calls? What book recommended by a friend did you read this year? Tell us in the comments!




Author: berryvillelibrary

"Our library, our future"

7 thoughts on “2016 Library Challenge: A Book A Friend Recommended”

  1. Happy National Friendship Day, Shirley! I agree with the previous comment that this book may not be for those who have recently lost loved ones. While the story is itself very short without an abundance of dialogue, it really allows the reader to fill in those negative spaces with one’s own experiences with loss and grief. It ripped wounds over ten years old wide open in me, which allowed me to reflect on certain aspects of that loss that were too devastating to examine at the time. This book was a deeply personal experience for me, and it seems to have a way of evoking those personal memories in each reader. So maybe the Monster comes walking for all of us. I’m looking forward to seeing how this story adapts to film. Good luck with the rest of your reading challenge!


    1. Happy National Friendship Day to you too, Whitney! 🙂

      I agree with you on it allowing the reader to fill in their own experiences. I think the author did a wonderful job of tapping into very universal feelings about grief while also, as you say, making it broad enough that anyone who has experienced a loss can read it and relate their own individual circumstances to it.

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂


  2. A Monster Calls is an amazing book and all the more so for it being the project that it was, to bring to life one of Siobhan Dowd’s unrealised stories, I can’t imagine how Patrick Ness did that, one can almost imagine he was dreaming her story into being. I’ve read other books by him that were good, but not with that profound depth.

    It didn’t occur to me at the time that it might be too much for those who had recently experienced loss, but I know that every time a book comes up that touches on grief – like Helen Macdonald’s memoir H is for Hawk, there are always people who will hesitate to read, not willing to risk being drawn into unwanted emotions. I don’t think it’s that they don’t wish to read them (although for some that will be the case) more that they wish to control the timing. I do think it is great that books like this exist though, they facilitate the process of our being able to see things from multiple perspectives.


    1. Agreed! I was really impressed with what he did. I can’t imagine being tasked with turning someone else’s idea into a book, but I think he did it beautifully.

      Also agree on the timing issue. I think it’s great that the book exists and so it will always be there as an option for people to read it when they’re ready.

      Liked by 1 person

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