Friday, August 21, 2015

Review - A Monster Calls (DNF)

A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness
inspired by an idea by Siobhan Dowd
Date: 2011
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 224
Format: e-book
Source: library

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

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 one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming....

This monster, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final story idea of Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I don't get it.  I just don't get it.  I don't get all the adulation, the awards, and the gushing over Ness's writing.  It's confusing at times, it's inconsistent, it tries too hard, and some of it is not even correct.

When I read More Than This, I really didn't like it.  I thought the writing was weak and the story derivative.  I also noticed that even some hard-core Ness fans didn't like that book, so I assumed it wasn't a very good representation of his work.  Taking that into account, I decided to try A Monster Calls.  After the second instance of completely impossible dialogue tagging, I'd had enough.  No matter how hard you try, you can't shrug or frown your speech!  Every time I read a mistake like that (because those are mistakes; don't try to tell me it's a "stylistic choice", unless you're trying to style yourself as an ignoramus) I can almost feel my blood pressure rise.  Yes, I'm a stickler for good grammar and proper punctuation.  Is it really too much to ask that our writers value those same things?

This book is also annoying in that we've got a British author trying to cater to American readers but only going halfway.  So we have Conor sleeping on the "settee" but leaning on the "hood" of a car.  Pick a country and stick with it; if young readers can't figure out what the "bonnet" of a car is from the context, there's always Google.

So, in the final analysis, the reasons why I didn't finish A Monster Calls are as follows:
  • incorrect dialogue tags
  • confusion about the book's setting
  • boredom
  • I want to spend my time on something I'm actually enjoying

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