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Let's Talk About Books

An out of practice reader discussing the books I get around to reading. 

Currently reading

In cold blood: a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
Truman Capote
M.R. Carey
Progress: 188/485 pages

A Monster Calls, a.k.a., The Book that Made Me Cry

A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness, Jim Kay

So, I've never really done this before, at least, not on this platform. But I have too much free time these days so I figure talking about books is a good way to spend that time. So bear with me as I figure this whole thing out. 


I actually read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness about two months ago, back in early May. I had heard of it and had seen it in stores but it had never really appealed to me. Then one day my mom said she'd buy my siblings and I books - a gift horse that is never to be looked in the mouth - and while searching for other books at Barnes and Noble, I found this one. I can't say why but I knew I had to get this book. I guess it was just the right time for the story or something. So I got it, took it home, and wasn't sure what to expect as I began reading.


I. Loved. It.


From the very first page I was sucked into the story and found myself more emotionally invested in it than I have been in a very long time. What I love most about this story is Ness' way with words. He doesn't have a flowery style or one that feels like he's trying too hard. It's simplistic and just straight to the point, something I love in an author. "The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do." There's nothing over the top or super artsy about that. It's simple and, for me, that makes it that much more gripping. 


It's not just the simplicity of Ness' writing that I like but also how well he was able to describe the emotional experience of losing a parent. As someone who lost a parent at a fairly young age (16, if anyone's curious), I found myself incredibly empathetic for Conor. I knew what it was like to lash out at people who were just trying to help or wanting to just destroy everything in the room because I was so angry. I have a lot of issues with the way grief is portrayed in media these days and to find a book that felt like such an honest portrayal of the experience made me love it all the more. 


The story itself is fantastic. It's not overcomplicated and there's no unnecessary plot lines. There was no romantic love twist, there was no unnecessary drama, it was just straightforward and to the point. The Monster wants the truth from Conor and he doesn't know what that is. To me the simplicity worked in the story's favor, allowing myself to really become immersed in the story, since there was no subpar plot lines to distract me from what was going on.  


The Monsters stories themselves were amazing. It felt like I was reading a fairy tale each time he appeared. As a major fan of fairy tales, I loved this component to the book. It reminded me of Pan's Labyrinth or Lady in The Water (I like that movie, fight me) in that it wasn't a traditional fairy tale, not necessarily a happy ending, but it had the roots of something I would have read as a child. They were definitely my favorite parts of the book and I wish the Monster told more than three. 


Finally, the illustrations of the book were all absolutely stunning. When I first saw the cover of the book I thought I'd find them really weird. Jim Kay has an interesting, kind of sketchy style, and at first impressions I thought his design for the monster was kind of lame. I didn't think a monster should look like Treebeard. When I gave them a chance, though, I knew there was no other form the Monster should take and loved every page that included a show of the Monster. Of course all the illustrations were gorgeous, I just have special love for the Monster who is, as you might expect, my favorite character in the story.


So overall, this is easily one of the best books I've read in a very long time. It was moving, entertaining, and just overall mind blowing. I know they're putting a movie into the works with Liam Neeson as the Monster and I am ridiculously excited to see how that all comes together. If they follow the book word for word, illustration for illustration, it'll be an amazing movie. So fingers crossed.