Okay, someone else really needs to start picking out books for me to read. First, I started reading The Mandibles shortly after the last election and had to set it aside because the dystopian view of the United States being reduced to a Third-World Nation was hitting a little to close to home at the time. And now, on one of the most depressing days that I can remember*, other than the days my mother and father died, I finished reading A Monster Calls.
I’ve mentioned before that I have been a fan of Patrick Ness’ since I happened to come across his Chaos Walking trilogy. I respect how he doesn’t wrap up the endings for his books with a big bright unicorn-adorned bow (I’m talkin’ to you, Dumplin’**) nor does he usually pull punches when describing how his protagonists feel. Connor’s mom is very sick and possibly dying, and it sucking fucks. His best friend thought she was doing him a favor by letting everyone in his school know, but all that has accomplished is making him an object of his fellow students’ pity. Since people his age (and other ages) don’t know how to act towards him, they ignore and effectively ostracize him. Overly-solicitous teachers, on the other hand, now well-meaningly and eye-rollingly routinely urge him to talk about to them his feelings and come to them if he needs someone to talk to. Since they don’t want to hurt his wittle feelings, he can get literally get away with anything now because of his “situation.” No need to turn in homework if he doesn’t feel like it; he can skip class or be tardy, or act-out without repercussions. Poor Connor.
But all “poor Connor” wants is to be treated normally, and for adults to stop treating him with condescension and treat him with respect and give him the truth. This includes his maternal grandmother, his father who has moved to another country, his teacher, and, maybe most of all, the person he loves and trusts most in the world.
The Monster left me with one unanswered question, which the I admire Ness for not answering the question clearly in the title or the book. Did the monster just happen to call on Connor, or did Connor call the monster? I’m pretty sure I know the answer.
*I started this review on Inauguration Day, January 20.
**Spoiler for Dumplin’: seriously, a star football player and “Peachbutt” (IIRC) are both in love with her? Please.