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.
Warnings: death, grief, violence
An emotional story about a young teen whose mother is dying from cancer, and the nightmare that keeps tormenting him at night. When Conor starts to have a monster visiting him, he is not afraid, because there is a bigger thing that he is afraid of. This monster, though, hasn’t come to harm him, but tell him stories and for him to acknowledge a truth. The books weaves three supernatural stories in the narrative where Conor is trying to hold on to a semblance of normal life while also wanting his mother to recover. It is sad, and it is heartbreaking and there is a lot of anger, guilt and resentment involved.
On the surface, the plot feels pretty slow. But it is building up a story around each moment – when Conor is being bullied, when Conor is being saved from bullies by his classmate, his father’s distant behaviour towards him, his reserved grandmother who tries to understand him, the people around him who only look at him in pity, and the pit inside him that he can’t fill no matter how much anger he pours into it. It is moving, and brought me to tears (well, to be fair, these days it doesn’t take much to make me cry but I have a reputation of being emotionless so I’ll speak from that) so much, that I couldn’t help but be simultaneously amazed and resentful towards this book.
Additionally, the artwork in this book is HAUNTING! It fits the mood of the book so well; the formatting of the text about it, and the pages of amazing darkly beautiful art had this book jump from 4 stars to 5 stars for me. Tissues definitely recommended for this one!