Cannonball Read 6, Book 52: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

16068905Last year, my Cannonball book was a crashing disappointment. A one star disaster that I HATED. I didn’t want to repeat the same problem this year. I wanted book 52 to be a treat, a rave review, a delight. A book I tore through in a day because I couldn’t put it down. After loving Eleanor & Park so hard, I bought Fangirl so this was the obvious logical choice to take centre stage as book 52 this year. An obvious shoo in for a gushing and effusive review. Alas, it’s not to be. While it’s miles better than last year’s crap out, Fangirl still really disappointed me.

Again, I know I’m not the demographic Rowell is shooting for, but I also know I don’t believe in limiting my book consumption based on something as arbitrary as that. So we have twins Cath and Wren (their mother didn’t want one child, let alone two, so when she had twins, she took the one name, Catherine, and split it in half. Already, I’m like “oh fuck off”), who have been abandoned by their mother and raised by their bipolar father. They both love Simon Snow (a painfully obvious stand in for Harry Potter) and Cath writes Simon Snow fan fiction. They’re about to go to college, the same college. Wren decides not to share a dorm with Cath because it’s time to put away the childish things but Cath won’t let go of her Simon Snow obsession, her fan fiction and her huge online following. Cue much angsty hand wringing as twins separate from each other.

I would possibly have cared more about Cath’s awkward social behaviour or Wren’s journey off the rails by way of too much drinking if either of them were likeable. But Wren is a shallow little mean bitch, so we’re supposed to side with Cath. Poor sweet awkward Simon Snow loving Cath. Problem there is Cath is a TOTAL FUCKING DRIP. She’s so wet and lame and boring and OH MY GOD you just want to smack her in the face. When her roommate’s ex-boyfriend falls for her, Cath is so intensely, well, Cath about it that I was rooting for Levi (for it is he) to give up on her and go find someone who doesn’t hyperventilate when you mention touching her boobies. Levi is the sole decent character. He’s ace, and Rowell clearly has a hard on for him, and so she should. He’s the only reason, pretty much, that I slogged on to the end.

The biggest problem with the book though is Simon Snow. Each chapter is prefaced with an excerpt from either one of the official Snow books, or Cath’s fan fiction. After reading one or two of them, I found them so eye gougingly awful that I skipped them. I love Harry Potter books so much, that for someone to try and emulate them, and to then have fan fiction of that emulation, it’s like trying to read a photocopy of a photocopy. We are treated to whole chapters of Cath’s fan fiction later in the book, which I simply couldn’t bear to read. She has Simon Snow and the bad vampire boy go gay for each other and the thought of someone as messed up as Cath trying to portray that, I just couldn’t bear to find out how awful it was. And then, as if I didn’t already want to smack her enough, when Levi asks her to read him some more when he’s at his fraternity, Cath replies something like “I don’t think I can read this to you with actual gay people in the house”. Oh wow just FUCK OFF.

It’s saved, just about, by a nice last chapter and some actual non-fan fiction from Cath (who spent the whole book being told what a great writer she is and whining about how she didn’t want to write anything other than Simon Snow. Fuck off.). But all in all, after the dizzy and gorgeous heights of Eleanor & Park, this was a disappointment, to say the least.

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Cannonball Read 6, Book 49: Dare Me by Megan Abbott

14062212I have mentioned before how I’ll happily read books where I am FULLY aware I am really not said book’s target market. It’s been a while since I wandered so far outside of my demographic as I have here with this story of cheerleaders, rivalry and Generally Bad Goings-On. But Abbott has garnered acclaim for her YA as well her non-YA novels, a few of which I’m also interested in reading. And who among us watched Bring It On and thought “yeah, I bet it’s not really this nice”? Well, this book is for all of us.

It’s a tale as old as time. A Queen Bee is loved and feared in equal measure until a better Queen comes along and takes her throne. The deposed queen becomes obsessed with exposing the new queen as a fake and a phoney and having the scales fall from everyone’s eyes. It never normally ends well. Here, the Queen Bee is head cheerleader Beth Cassidy and in a nice take, the threat comes not from a new girl who can flic-flac her into next week, but from the new cheer coach, who has no time for the way Beth runs her squad. And in an even nicer twist, Beth isn’t just driven into a jealous rage, but is a full blown insane psychopath who will stop at nothing to end the coach’s reign. And when the coach hands her the way to upend her life on a silver platter, shit gets real ugly real fast.

Narrated by Beth’s best friend, Addy Hanlon, there’s no denying that Abbott knows how teenage girls operate. It all feels brilliantly and unpleasantly authentic. One of the many reasons I can’t bear the movie Juno is it all feels like a guess, Diablo Cody thinks it’s how teenage girls talk to each other. I didn’t believe a single word anyone said in that film. I believed every word of this book though. It’s smart, it’s incisive and it’s gripping. Seriously. I know I’m talking about a cheerleading book, I haven’t lost my mind.

Things go from bitchily amusing to ever darker when the Coach is caught red-handed having an affair. If you have any plans to read this book, I’m about to get all spoilerific, so look away now. Coach has an affair with Will, a hot military recruiter and when he turns up dead, and it turns out not to be the suicide initially posited, the noose curls ever more tightly around Coach French’s neck and we all breathlessly await Crazy Beth to storm in and kick her chair away. For me, the end could have gone about four different ways and the direction Abbott eventually pulls you in was one I didn’t see coming until it was almost upon me. That’s how good she is. It’s how good this book is. If you’ve ever wanted to be a cheerleader, been bullied by a mean girl, idolised your best friend, been a cheerleader, been mean, idly plotted your frenemy’s downfall, you’ll find something to relate to in this deliciously nasty little gem.

Cannonball Read 6, Book 45: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan

18918102So this was an intriguing one. The two biggest YA superstars collaborate on a book, each writing alternate chapters, about two high school boys both named Will Grayson. John Green takes the straight Will, best friend to the biggest, gayest teen (ironically nicknamed Tiny, of course) while Levithan gives us the gay will, who is too cool to use capital letters at any point ever, but otherwise leads a tortured existence, prone to black moods and on medication to stabilise his moods. A freak turn of events sees the two Graysons intersect and their lives begin to move in different and unplanned directions.

I loved this book so hard. Both Green and Levithan capture the voices of their characters phenomenally well. It’s frequently hilarious, it punches you in the gut almost as often. I loved that Will Grayson Who Uses Caps loved to indulge in giving people the kind of nicknames that I like to give to people, when he christens a love rival “DouchePants McWaterPolo”. There is a LOT of talk about how huge Tiny is. “Imagine being hugged by a sofa. that’s what it feels like”. In terms of plot, it is both predictable and a little ridiculous. Tiny Cooper is writing a musical about his life that the school is going to put on. Of course, he and gay will end up seeing each other.

But the characters are so strong and the writing so spot on, that the inanity of the plot fades away into the background. The transition of gay will from spiky and dark to cautious romantic is beautiful and painful to read. When Tiny asks whether he minds if they hold hands, the response “the truth is, i do mind. but i know that since he’s my boyfriend, the answer should be that i don’t mind at all. he’d probably carry me to class in his arms if i asked him nicely” actually made me say “awwww”. Out loud. On public transport. I suspect how much people love this book does relate to how bearable and believable they find Tiny Cooper, but I loved that whether he was vastly ridiculous or not, he was not a caricature or a stereotype. Neither author talks down to their audience. It’s not every day you read a book where a relationship is mapped out using Schrodinger’s Cat as a template.

But the ending, the ending. Sigh. I tore through this book in no time at all and loved every page, right up to the final chapter. The final chapter is a bit of a fumble. It doesn’t end the way I wanted it to, but it also doesn’t really end in a believable or terribly satisfying way. It’s annoying in the extreme that such a wonderful novel takes a sharp turn into Blahville. I still loved it, but it ends up going just left of centre rather than nailing the bullseye.

Cannonball Read 6, Book 41: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

17322949I know. I’m arriving late to the Rainbow Rowell party. I don’t know why but there was something about her books that didn’t make me fall over myself to read them. Maybe it was the pastel covers, the cute titles, I don’t know. Maybe it’s that her first name is Rainbow, for sobbing out loud. Whatever it was, I was not actively campaigning against her books, I was just not that interested. And the Cannonball Read people LOVE her too. Despite all this evidence that I should really get over myself and indulge my YA loving book geek in some Rowell goodness, it took my housemate reading this book to make me see the light. She finished it, handed it to me and said “you need to read this. You HAVE to read this.”

And so I did. And what an unadulterated delight it turned out to be. A delight which made me well up with joy and sadness on more than one occasion. Eleanor is the new girl at school, she wears mismatched clothes, she has hair like Ronald McDonald, she’s a big girl with a big presence who only wants to go unnoticed. Park is the half Korean kid who sits at the back of the bus lost in music and looking too cool for school. On her first day, Park saves Eleanor from herself when she can’t decide where to sit on the bus to school. From there, slowly, they build a friendship, founded on mix tapes and comic books, and then they fall for each other. And if their falling doesn’t make you melt just a little bit, doesn’t take you back to what that first love was like, then I don’t know what to tell you. You may well be dead.

As soon as he said it, she broke into a smile. And when Eleanor smiled, something broke inside of him.  

Something always did. 

How can you not read a line like that and not melt? It’s always said that you should write what you know and it’s pretty clear that Rowell knows what it’s like to be an awkward teen falling in love for the first time. Everything about the two of them and how they are with each other felt so gloriously, gorgeously, painfully real, that I was texting a quote from pretty much every other page to my housemate with an “I can’t even fucking deal with this” after it.

Poking about on the interwebs after I finished it, I discovered some hilarious ranting about the book. People went after it for its racism (which misses the point of the racist content so massively, I actually could not believe what I was reading), its historical inauthenticity (it’s set in 1986, not 1886, for heavens sakes) and the ending, my GOD do some people loathe that final sentence. While I may concur a little that the plot device used to set the ending in motion feels a little rushed and unclear, the last line of this wonderful, beautiful book is pretty much perfect. It’s stayed with me since I finished it, along with many achingly memorable exchanges between the titular couple. I don’t care how old you are, what race, creed, colour or sexual orientation you are, you should read Eleanor & Park. You’ll feel better for it.

Cannonball Read, Book 39: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

16143347I think I have written before about how when I was growing up, YA wasn’t really a big deal, and I honestly can’t recall reading books aimed specifically at my age group when I was fifteen. This is why I read lots of Stephen King and the like when I was growing up and probably accounts a lot for my warped world view. As much as I loathe Stephenie Meyer and every book she’s ever published, there’s no denying that Twilight finished what Harry Potter started and put YA through the roof into the stratosphere. You can’t turn around now without there being some new YA phenomenon being hyped up every other day. And since I didn’t have any when I was growing up, I see absolutely no shame in reading it now that I’m hurtling ever faster towards 40.

The latest book to arrive on a tidal wave of hype is this one, E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars. Narrated by 17 year old Cadence Sinclair Eastman, it tells the story of a fantastically rich family and their summers on a private island. She hangs out with two cousins her own age, Jonny and Mirren and an outsider, Gat, who joins them every year. She falls in love with Gat, of course. Then, when Cadence is 15, she has an accident and loses most of her memory of summer fifteen. Two years later, she returns to the private island and memories begin to come back as to exactly what happened.

E. Lockhart is of course Emily Jenkins, and here she schools several authors I’ve read recently in how you write spoilt, privileged and generally awful people and it not be hard work to read them. Cadence and indeed the entire Sinclair family are all pretty vile to each other, squabbling over inheritance following the death of their grandmother. There’s shades of fairy tales and of King Lear in that set up, with three daughters all trying to show their father they love him the most to secure their own future.  Lockhart also captures how teens really talk to each other more than, say, Cody Diablo ever has. Cadence, Mirren, Jonny and Gat call themselves The Liars and some of their conversations feel painfully real. This excellent characterisation coupled with an intriguing mystery makes this an engrossing read. I finished it in one sitting.

There’s the issue of the ending though. It’s unfortunate that they’ve made SO MUCH of the twisty turny ending Lockhart has come up with. My housemate read an ARC of it, which even had a helpline number on it so you could discuss the ending with someone. I mean, really. All the publicity says “if anyone asks you how it ends, LIE”. But when you go into a book or a film knowing there’s a twist, you’ll be looking for it. Chances are you’ll find it before it’s revealed as well. I believe it’s called The Shyamalan Paradox. We Were Liars is no different, I figured where it was going before it got there, but it didn’t really diminish the impact of it. It may have been a more effective marketing campaign to talk about the characters, Lockhart’s powerful writing, maybe even double bluffing by amping up the inheritance in fighting angle. Then, the ending would really come along and smack you up side the head.

So anyway, if you love YA books, you totally need to read it. You’ve possibly already done so. But if anyone asks you how it ends, don’t lie. Don’t tell them anything about it. Tell them to just read it themselves.

Cannonball Read 6, Book 30: The Dead In Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

17834904Flavia de Luce, we meet again. I’ve been nuts about the magnificently precocious 12 year old amateur sleuth ever since the opening pages of the first book, when she looked at the cook employed by her father at their huge country house and thought “will no-one rid us of this turbulent pastry chef?” She is an absolute delight of a character, though the series has shown signs of stalling, as Flavia continues to be the same age and remain in the same location, edging ever closer to Midsomer Murders territory.

So it’s a huge relief that this, the sixth instalment of the series, ups the game considerably. The cliffhanger ending of the previous novel was that Flavia’s mother Harriet had been found and was returning to Bishop’s Lacey. We start this book with the not altogether unsurprising development (since she has been missing for over ten years) that Harriet’s corpse is what has been found and her body is being returned to the village for burial. De Luces crawl out of the woodwork like never before, a mystery man goes under the train carrying Harriet’s body, Flavia becomes convinced she can resurrect the dead and somewhere, Winston Churchill pops up to ask about pheasant sandwiches. No, I haven’t had a stroke. See, Flavia’s mother was a government spy and Flavia begins to find out that the de Luce name is very heavily involved with protecting the realm and so it’s no wonder Harriet was killed. But who killed her? And who killed the man under the train? And why is there so much focus on pheasant sandwiches?

All will, of course, become clear, but not before Flavia meets her match in her equally precocious and multilingual cousin Undine and her frosty mother Lena. Bradley is back on form and some of the scenes between Undine and Flavia are properly laugh out loud funny with gems like “in ordinary circumstances, I would have responded to such a command by sending up a reply that would given Undine’s mother a perm that would be truly everlasting, but I restrained myself”. But the real joy in this book is that Bradley has aimed so much bigger with the murder mystery. Unmasking the perpetrator poses more questions than it answers and the end of this book sees Flavia parted not just from Buckshaw and Bishop’s Lacey, but from the UK entirely.

This epic widening of the canvas is something the series has been crying out for and here it is at last. I’ve dinged the last couple of books for being so safe in that regard and so I have nothing but praise now that all bets are off. Flavia will return next year in the 7th book, As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust, and I say brava.

Cannonball Read 6, Book 22: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

17702699Anyone who read my reviews regularly last year will be aware that I have developed something of a book crush on Patrick Ness. He’s a brilliant author and, as some have said of Rainbow Rowell, an author I wish had been around when I actually was a Young Adult, as it would have made my teenage years that much more bearable. He is also bloody good value for money on Twitter, so if you don’t already, you should totally follow him. His live tweeting of reading the first Twilight book was comedy gold.

But I digress.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first book in his Chaos Walking trilogy, which is what really put him on the map 6 years ago. Between this trilogy and A Monster Calls, he has won pretty much every YA literary award there is. Having now read the first third of said trilogy, I can totally see why. This book grips like a vice from the first page and, well like the title says, it never lets go. Welcome to Prentisstown, a place like no other. Everyone can hear each other’s thoughts (the Noise) and you become a man at age 13, though a year does last 13 months. One day, Todd and his dog Manchee (whose thoughts Todd can also hear) stumble across an area of total silence. The lack of Noise should not be possible and Todd soon finds out that Prentisstown is nothing like he thought it was and is fleeing for his life with Manchee in tow. But being on the run is a little difficult when your pursuers can hear your every thought.

I’m fairly sure I’m one of the last people on the planet to read the trilogy but in the event that I am not, why are you still here? You should be heading to the bookshop/library/Kindle store to be getting stuck in. You won’t regret it. It is a relentlessly paced read, one I struggled to put down as I just couldn’t wait to find out more about Todd’s epic journey of discovery. Some people may struggle with the misspelled words and poor grammar Ness uses for the Prentisstown dialect (I did, briefly), but just go with it. Trust me. Todd and Manchee are great company, poor spelling or no. What is really going on in Prentisstown isn’t fully revealed here, but *spoiler alert*, the reason for the silence is a girl. See, while women can hear the men’s Noise, men can’t hear theirs. Todd has been told that the virus which caused the Noise was fatal to women, as the entire female population in his town is dead. But if that didn’t kill them, what did?

A grim and unique premise, a bleak and unforgiving setting, by rights Knife should be a punishing read. But Todd’s naiveté and his friendship with Manchee, his slow burgeoning friendship with Violet (the girl with the Silence) make this as charming as it is exciting (and yes, bleak). However, I need to warn readers of a sensitive disposition. Ness pulls the rug towards the end of this book and you won’t want to believe he has been so cruel. But he has been. I knew what was coming (Twitter caught me unawares one day) and even that didn’t really help matters. Patrick Ness is a cold hearted bastard. You have been warned.

He’s also an out and proud homosexual who is all about promoting equality and acceptance. He put a gay teen front and centre of More Than This  but didn’t make the book all about his being gay. At the start of this trilogy, he quietly shows us that Todd has been happily raised by a gay couple who love him as much as they do each other. And for that, he really can’t be praised enough. Basically, read this book. And then read the next two. I plan to read them before the year is out, so reviews of them will be here soon enough.

Cannonball Read 5, Book 105: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

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When I first saw the film Billy Elliot, I said at the time that it overwhelmed me so much that I wanted to go out in the street and hug random strangers. With The Fault In Our Stars, I wanted to stage my own personal World Book Night. I wanted to buy 100 copies and hand them to random people, urging them to read it. It’s a beautiful and special piece of work that EVERYONE needs to read.

It was always going to be a tricky one for me to read, as our feisty teenage heroine Hazel Grace has an incurable cancer (not a terminal one, though really what IS the difference there?) and it’s one of those fuckers which stole my dad from us, so ya know. I expected it would make me a little weepy. I didn’t expect it to move me quite so epically and so often as it did. Hazel is strong-armed into going to Cancer Support Group by her over-protective parents and one day Augustus Waters comes along to the group. Hazel thinks he’s hot, then finds out he’s charming and then suddenly her life is on a very different path. Though it’s a path where cancer still comes along for the ride.

Hazel loves Augustus and I swear with God as my witness, if there’s a person out there who reads this book and doesn’t love him EVERY BIT AS MUCH (if not more) then that person has no soul. Hazel is in awe of him from minute one and she’s authentically teenage about it too: “Look, let me just say it: He was hot. A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward, and, at worst, a form of assault. But a hot boy….. well.” And that’s the kicker. Not only has Green written teenagers who sound like teenagers (intelligent, erudite ones to be sure, but teenagers all the same), they don’t sound like they have a bad case of Dawson’s-Creek-itis to go with their cancers. And the approach they have to their illness, irreverent and determined, feels so much more real than having them mope around feeling sorry for themselves and waiting to die.

A large part of the book is taken up with Hazel’s desire to track down the author of her favourite book, An Imperial Affliction. It too is about a teenage girl fighting cancer and famously ends mid-sentence. Hazel simply HAS TO KNOW what happened next so keeps writing to the author. Except he is a recluse who lives in Amsterdam and never writes her back. And so Augustus (having fallen in love with AIA as well as with Hazel) spends his Wish from the Make A Wish Foundation on a trip to Amsterdam. Normally, a teen romance would have me puking on my shoes, but the whole Amsterdam section made me alternately joyful and weepy.

Peter Van Houten, the author of AIA, is an alcoholic mess and disappoints them both with his actions when them meet him. Refusing to answer Hazel’s questions, Augustus pledges that he will write her a sequel instead. He’s that kind of guy. But life gets in the way, Van Houten gets a shot at redemption and when Hazel finally reads what Augustus wrote, well. It’s possibly the most achingly beautiful thing I’ve read all year.

Reading this book really brings it home as to why I absolutely bloody love books. It is easily in my top ten books that I have read this year. Some books when you recommend them to people, you’ll say “yeah it’s really funny” or “it’s so exciting to read” or some such. With this book, if I may quote those South Park boys in a very different context, all I can say is “this book will change your life”. So read it. I hope you love it. Because I do, John Green. I do. 

Cannonball Read, Book 90: More Than This by Patrick Ness

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This is now my third Ness novel of this Cannonball. After being emotionally destroyed by A Monster Calls and then absolutely enchanted by The Crane Wife I now find myself reading his latest YA novel. I did say in my review of The Crane Wife that I wanted to read everything Ness ever writes, so this shouldn’t really be a surprise to you all. His Chaos Walking trilogy is planned for next year’s Cannonball. Since 2014 is going to be my Year of Big Books, I figure I need to intersperse them with less gargantuan tomes if I am going to hit 52. But anyway, I digress.

Talk about hooking you in from the get-go. “Here is the boy, drowning” is how Ness opens this novel and if that doesn’t make you want to read it in one sitting, then nothing will. More Than This is the story of Seth Wearing, a sixteen year old boy whose life is so terrible he sees no other option than to end it. Instead of ending, he comes to in his childhood home in the UK, the home his family left behind for a new life in the USA, after a Very Bad Event. However, it’s a weird and unpopulated dystopian version of his remembered home and so maybe he did die and this is his afterlife. Seth can’t be sure but he needs to find out. Not least because every time he falls asleep, he dreams of the events that led to him walking into the ocean.

In his series of re-reading Stephen King novels, James Smythe notes that when he was growing up, YA didn’t really exist as a genre. And Ness makes me wish that it did. It would have been just phenomenal to have a Patrick Ness in my life when I was sixteen. Not just because he’s a gay and I’m a gay (everywhere a gay gay), but because he gets it. Ness gets teenagers and adolescence in such a perfect way and leaves you in no doubt that however rubbish it is for you as a teenager, it gets better and he’s living proof. Yes, Seth is gay (it irks me that in 2013, this is still considered “daring”) but anyone who was once a teenager can relate to parents thwarting their romantic affairs and school being a painful trial, so it in no way limits the scope and appeal of the book.

In addition to really understanding teenagers, Ness is top notch at characters and dialogue. Seth meets up with two other lost souls, Regine and Tomasz, both of whom are an absolute delight to read. Their quest to find out exactly what is going on with their (after)lives though, that does go on maybe a fraction longer than it could and Ness’s vision does owe more than a small debt to The Matrix, but those are (believe it or not) minor quibbles. The book itself does not outstay its welcome, and in the closing pages I found myself yearning for more, but Ness abides by the age old showbiz rule when it comes to making your audience want more. He doesn’t give it to us. He doesn’t need to though. The ending is gorgeous and perfect, I just didn’t want to leave this book or its characters behind.

Cannonball Read 5, Book 67: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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It is almost six years since Siobhan Dowd died from breast cancer, leaving her final idea for a young adult novel unwritten. As Patrick Ness points out in the foreword, “she had the characters, a premise and a beginning. What she didn’t have, unfortunately, was time.” It was her publisher who reached out to Ness and asked him to turn her premise into a novel. And here we are.

Since its publication in 2011, Ness’ realisation of Dowd’s idea has been, I think it’s fair to say, a sensation. Greeted with an avalanche of praise and the recipient of many awards (it’s the first book ever to win the Carnegie Medal and the Kate Greenaway Medal). Having just devoured it in one sitting, I can absolutely see why.

Conor O’Malley is a thirteen year old boy. His parents are divorced, he lives with his mum, he is bullied at school, he doesn’t like his grandmother very much. So far, so normal. But Conor’s mother is slowly dying of an incurable disease (the word “cancer” haunts the pages but is never actually spoken) and one night, just after midnight, a monster calls on Conor. But it’s no everyday fairy tale monster.

Taking the form of the yew tree in Conor’s garden, the monster tells Conor he will tell him three stories and then Conor will tell him the fourth. Said fourth story will be the scariest thing of all for anyone, let alone a thirteen year old: the truth. Because, of course, Conor is refusing to accept the biggest truth of all. It’s giving him nightmares, ones he can’t or won’t fully remember after he wakes.

The writing is absolutely beautiful. The mixture of fantasy with the cold sad reality of Conor’s life is perfectly balanced, drawing in the reader and making you absolutely believe the monster really exists, because for Conor, he does. It is a very VERY rare occasion that a book moves me to tears. It happened with The Lovely Bones (and even now, I well up when I explain to people about the Monopoly scene) , but that is the only one. Until today.

The last thirty pages of the book deal with the monster drawing Conor’s story, his truth, from him. It’s the reason why he called and since he’s there to help, he draws it out of him in the most tender way he can. I’m not ashamed to say I sobbed my way through those thirty pages. A Monster Calls will stay with me for a very long time. Everyone who has lost someone should read this book. Heck, EVERYONE should read this book.