Patrick Ness is a stupid dumb-dumb. Who does he think he is, writing beautiful, meaningful, dark fairy tales for kids that work just as well on adults? I hated this stupid book and its stupid story with its stupid, stupid little boy of a main character. I hated how well thought out and tender it was talking about death and feelings and coming to terms with stupid, stupid things like grief.
Connor is a thirteen-year old boy living alone with his very sick mother. He’s angry. He’s strong, because he has to. Unfortunately, he’s also invisible. His mother’s sickness somehow makes people look away instead of looking at him. The only person who actually looks at him, his best friend Lily, he pushes away. He is alone. He is lonely. Naturally, that’s when the monster comes to him. The monster looks like a yew tree and claims it was Connor who called him. Thus begins the tale of how Connor learns to deal with what’s happening to his mother and to himself.
It’s a simple story, really. But Ness tells it in a wonderful way. It somehow reminded me of both Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lake and Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things are. There are brief respites from the darkness, in the form of humour, but otherwise the weight of it all is crushing. You feel Connor. You get him. You understand his pain, his actions and his thoughts.
A few years ago, I saw The Fountain, another story of loss, love and pain. I loved the movie, but it was incredibly painful to watch. It is one of my favourite movies of all time, but I won’t be seeing it again. This book had a similar effect on me. I read it within a couple of hours but I had to put it down a few times and do other things, because it was too overwhelming. So yeah. Read this stupid, perfect little book, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.