A Monster Calls-Patrick Ness
"At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd-- whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself-- Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined."
Heartwrenching, this cuts down deep into that basin of despair it's all too easy to fall into when your loved one is dying and there's nothing you can do about it. I've felt dipped into that despair before in literature with The Sickness but nothing like this. This is almost visceral. The words death and cancer are never actually used but you, the adult reader, know exactly what's happening, you know what the real life conclusion is most likely going to be. When the monster finished telling his first story I knew I was going have to renew my tissue box because I was going to end up in tears. The writing is tremendous-ornate enough to draw you in but light enough that it floats above all the heavy themes the book is built upon. And it's not all doom and gloom, there's an amazing thread of humor woven throughout that renders its grown-up too fast hero a proper teenager.
And to add to that, there's Kay's absolutely atmospheric illustrations. They are moody befitting the most gothic of tales. They leave just enough to imagination but illustrate the crucial moments nonetheless. I'm almost reminded of Gammell's work in that they can both convey a lot of dread in a deceptively simple way but Kay won't keep you up at night. (As an aside, thank you publishers for using black thread to bind the book-nothing gets me twitchier than seeing a white line through black space.)
I'm serious, I finished this book and immediately reread it...I cried the second time too.