Perhaps Never Knowing is Best

She would rip the final page

Out from every book she ever read

Because she couldn’t bear the idea

Of something that once made her happy,

Something that she once loved,

Ending

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Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls. Patrick Ness.

Note: This was not a paid/compensated review, and opinions are all my own

Typically, I don’t cry while reading books. Movies? Sure, it’s happened–it’s happened a lot, actually. But books? It almost never occurs. I’m not sure why that is–as a writer, you’d think that I would have a deeper connection to written word than anything in this universe. And I’ve come close to crying when reading stories about depression or anxiety, because those topics touch upon old wounds on my soul. But this book, it went far beyond all of that.

monster-calls-quoteIt took me two days to finish this novel. The language itself is simplistic and mild, and yet profound truths are woven between these inked lines; underneath that seemingly benign surface lies the bitterness of confusion and loneliness and sadness. The illustrations are hauntingly gorgeous, and were a perfect complement to such a bitterly beautiful story. Please, if you intend to purchase this novel, get your hands on a print version because these drawings accentuate the torment and pain that dwells within this book, and truly make the experience whole.

It’s so strange that the “monster” was branded with such a harsh, horrific name, and yet his character suggests the opposite. He cradles Conor in his branches and guides him through the hardest struggle he has ever experienced in his young life. And, at the end, he stays. He does not abandon Conor, this boy who is such a small being in such an infinitely huge universe. Because, no matter how insignificant, how invisible, we may believe ourselves to be, we are worthy of comfort and compassion, and should never be afraid to admit that we are, in fact, human. We need one another–we need to feel loved. And I think, in order to really understand that idea, we must welcome a desire to love other people into our hearts as well, and always be there when someone needs us the most.

This book tore out my heart, shattered it into countless pieces, invoked within me feelings I’ve never experienced before. It brought me to tears. But then it healed me, promised that, even when things are at their worst, there is always hope that I will make it through every second of the pain if I believe in myself. And that is a message we all should learn.37736cca273bd6b857a84bd13956f6ed


The windows of the far wall stretched up to the high ceiling, and, beyond them, the blue and yellow lights became shimmering blurs through the veil of rain that hung like a translucent curtain over the world. Two long, plush, pristine white couches formed a perfect “L” around the nearly invisible glass coffee table. The room smelled of gasoline and detergent, and I wondered what memories had been burned here, what sins had been washed away. A heaviness weighed down on my shoulders, the air saturated with disaster and unease, and I couldn’t bring myself to sit.

Atop the glistening surface of the table was a bowl, half-filled with small, white pills like precious pearls. They rustled as would leaves in an autumn breeze as I plucked one from the rest, rolling it between my fingertips.

“What are these?” I called as Amias came up beside me.

“These,” He said, taking the pill from my hand and holding it before my face, speckles of ash freckling the green of his eyes. “These help keep away the monsters.”

Prey for the Monsters

To Make Things Well

He looked up from the couch as I walked in through the unlocked door and, though he gave a swift, guilty turn of his head and cleared his throat, I knew he had been crying. The red rims around his eyes made his cheeks look pale, hollow, and his chin lowered as though weighed down by a discomfort of his conscience. His lip quivered, pleading, helpless, and so he bit it without mercy.

“It’s cold outside,” I said.

He nodded, thumbs trailing over his fingertips as though to remove a stain, shoulders twitching at the accusatory inflections of my voice. I moved beside him, standing between him and the glass coffee table, the edge of which glinted like a razor in the too-bright overhead lights. I waited, but he didn’t look up.

“Not too cold for her though, huh? Figured she’d be okay out there by herself, right?”

He opened his mouth to offer some flimsy excuse that I couldn’t bear to hear. I grabbed the back of his head, fingers twisting in his hair, so dark a shade of red that you could almost mistake it for blood. Glass shattered, and I never saw so much scarlet, oozing like tears from the cuts in his face. He didn’t even scream.

Clouded Clarity

fog-04

His figure faded in and out of the fog as though he were weaving back and forth between different realities. A smell like something that once owned a name, that was once familiar but now lost, lingered in the motionless breeze, the worlding taking on the opaque, whitish hue of chalk half-scoured from a board. Trees arose like dead hands clawing towards a heaven they’ve been denied, and he meandered between them as if drifting through a scattered gathering of old friends. A loud silence screeched in his ear and rippled over his skin to invoke a shudder, sweat budding across the pale, bumped skin at the back of his neck. He walked with misdirected purpose in his lifted chin, wandering into the nothing, the fog swallowing whole as effortlessly as one would a cool, green breath mint.

Blame It All

She ran her fingertips over the side of her neck, recalling how she had traced his veins as if they were the roads that would lead her to where she belonged, to the place she had been denied all her life. Now, wherever she went, she had an air of being lost, her black hair like a shifting shadow as it stirred in the idle breeze.

“And you can’t hold him wholly accountable for the words he whispers after midnight.” She acknowledged, though her eyes had a dangerous shimmer, like they held tiny bits of broken glass that would draw blood if she wasn’t careful. “Because one day, he won’t want to talk about all the different ways people hold their pens, or what the color purple might taste like, or how people’s eyes light up like stars when they look at the person they love. Because one day, you’ll bring him a dandelion, nature’s promise of a wish, and he’ll call it a weed. And then, with a kind of pain that knocks you to your knees and leaves you hollow inside, and you’ll realize that you aren’t the sort of opposites that attract.

The Shattered

She had gray hair, colorless but radiant, like how you would imagine stardust to look, or perhaps slender strands of sterling silver. She knew how to say “I love you” in five different languages, but she knew how to say “goodbye” in nine. She once stole a cue stick from a bar because she thought the scratches made it looked lightning-struck, and claimed you could feel the electricity if you touched its wounded surface. Once, she threw a brick at a jewelry store window just to hear the glass shatter. People, she said, when they relinquished the last bit of hope they had clung onto for so long, sounded like that. She told me it was her favorite sound, because it was so chaotically, desperately human.

She was busy making a harmonica weep when a car slowed to a halt at the curb before us, a trail of grimy clouds rippling out from behind it. Her rouged lips pressed ever so gently against the instrument, she shook her head, and the car took off, disappearing down the dark street as though it had never existed to begin with. They come and go, she told me once, and you’d pretend as though you’d never met them, but you never really quite got the exhaust smoke out of your lungs.
“There are two kinds of tired,” She said after a final, mournful note. “The kind you feel in your body, and the kind you feel in your heart.”
My eyes ran down the tears in her fishnet stockings, the frayed threads at the hem of her flimsy sweater like the roots of flowers torn unwillingly from the earth. “What sort of tired are you?” I asked.
“I’m not sure anymore.” She paused, turning her head away. “But I think the bigger issue is that I’ve been tired for so long, that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to fall asleep.”

Dreams are Just So

Snowflakes clung to the tangled ribbons of her scarlet hair like powdered sugar atop a cake of red velvet. She looked out at the window from where she stood with such an unyielding stare that I shifted my gaze to it as well. I found that it looked out on nothing in particular, and I wondered; just what was the purpose of having windows if you never wanted to look out of them?

After a few moments, I turned my head back to her and saw the river of furious tears weave cracks down her unmoving indignant face. In her hand she clenched seven single dollar bills. Seven, no more, no less. She walked over to the window and, with the calm unfurling of her fingers, she let them spiral away in the oncoming wind. She didn’t even watch.