Madison’s Letter Essay #2: A Monster Calls

Recently, I finished reading A Monster Calls. It’s a 216 page book written by Patrick Ness. Patrick Ness was born on October 17, 1971. His father was a drill sergeant for the US Army, so he lived in a few different places; Washington D.C., Hawaii, and Los Angeles. He is an author, journalist and a lecturer who lives in London. The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness’s first novel, won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. After, followed two other books. Together, they formed the Chaos Walking Trilogy. Patrick Ness is mostly known for The Knife of Never Letting Go and A Monster Calls.

After his usual sleepless night, Conor thought he had heard someone call his name from a distance. Thinking it was just the wind he tried to go back to sleep, but heard his name being called once again. The voice was unfamiliar to him so he got up to look around.  He searched his house looking in the kitchen and in the living room to see if his mother was calling him. Conor crept back to his room after finding nothing.  He looked outside his window to see the yew tree that was usually in the graveyard across from his house, now in his backyard. The ancient yew tree transformed into a monster like figure, but it wasn’t the monster he was expecting. It told Conor that it wanted the truth about his nightmare after it told him three stories. Conor had never told anyone about the nightmare he’d been having, he’d never even said it out loud. Since his mother started her treatments, he had a recurring nightmare. The monster in his dream was more monster like than the yew tree. It had beaming red eyes and all the usual stuff monsters have. He didn’t want to tell the monster his story, but he didn’t have a choice.

If I were the author I would have been more specific as to what was going on with Conor’s mother. Conor’s nightmare began when his mother first started her treatments, but we don’t know what the treatments are for or what they are doing to help Conor’s mom.

“‘Every morning?’ Conor said. ‘How long is she going to be here?’


‘We don’t need her here–’

‘You know how I get at this point in the treatments, Conor–’

‘We’ve been okay so far–’

‘Conor,’ his mum snapped, so harshly it seemed to surprise them both. There was a long silence. And then she smiled again, looking really, really tired.”

The author only hints at what’s really going on with Conor’s mom. He wrote that she had lost her hair and was very tired, which are all signs of cancer or side effects of chemotherapy- a treatment for cancer. However, the author doesn’t clearly show what the illness or disease is.  I think that if the author went into a little more detail about Conor’s mother’s illness, it would have made the book much clearer. By leaving this factor out of the story, it leaves a pretty large piece of the story up to the reader’s imagination. Instead of picturing it the way the author pictured it, the reader could have imagined something entirely different.

I would give A Monster Calls a 9 out 10. It was filled with mystery and melancholy suspense. Even though I would have added more details about the mother, leaving them out still adds to the mysterious portion of the book. I can’t wait to read it again.

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3 thoughts on “Madison’s Letter Essay #2: A Monster Calls

  1. Maddie,
    I really liked you letter essay. Your summary was very descriptive, but at the same time left me with a few unanswered questions. I also liked the background you gave on the character; I could tell you took time to research. The only thing you could have added was what compelled you to read the book in the first place? Overall you did a great job.
    – Micah Rasmussen

  2. Maddie,
    Your letter essay was great and very descriptive; it shows you put effort into it. To the reader, you provided enough description to keep them in but at the same time still missing something so that they will want to find out. One thing to add in the future would be to put another thing you noticed in the text and then analyze that. If you do that, then your essay will not only inform the reader but hopefully compel them to read the novel.
    Trevor W.

  3. Dear maddie,
    I really liked your letter essay and it sounds like a great book. Your summery was really descriptive and I really liked the quoted passage you put in because it says some of the things that are most likely in the book

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