A Monster Calls By Patrick Ness | Book Review

A Monster Calls By Patrick Ness Book Review

GENRE: FANTASY/HORROR

PAGE COUNT: 226 PAGES

“Stories are the wildest things of all, stories chase and bite and hunt”

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor. 

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.

Okay so I know I’m a bit late on this one, but I’m so thankful that a reading challenge pushed it to the top of my to be read list. Let me start by saying everything people say about this book is true. It’s beautiful, tragic and utterly moving.

“So come and get me then”

Connor O’Malley is a kid that shines with the weight of the world on his shoulders, and is completely easy to fall in love with. As you go through the complex journey with him, his story will pull at your heartstrings and his immense strength will bring you to tears.

“Stories of how I toppled enemies, Stories of how I slew dragons”

The Monster reminds me of a mix between the riddler, the boogie man and the BFG. Somehow, it works perfectly. The character is so interesting that I want another book dedicated solely to him. After finishing the book I’m left with a sense of intrigue at the mysterious entity of the character. The dynamic of Connor of The Monster is also a joy to read. 

“ I have come to get you, Connor O’Malley”

“Stories are important, they can be more important then anything. If they carry the truth” 

This is the first book I have read buy Ness and it certainly wont be the last, the prose in the book is effortless and poetic. Each page hits you right in the gut with it’s elegant beauty and dark humour. Ness also manages to fill the book with life lessons, from the monster teaching Connor to Connor learning on his own. This is a book that will make you think, when you finish I guarantee you will be reflecting on it for days after finishing it. It’s a short book with a big impact.

I have once again found a book that was impossible to put down. Please please treat yourself to this read, just don’t blame me if you don’t have tissues near by.

“You do not write your life with words, you write it with actions”

RATING:
★★★★★

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane By Neil Gaiman | Book Review

the ocean at the end of the lane

GENRE: FANTASY/THRILLER
PAGE COUNT: 237 PAGES

“I remember my own childhood vividly…I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn’t let adults know I knew. It would scare them.”

Maurice Sendak

Book Synopsis

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

The epigraph sets the stage for this novel perfectly and readies you for the magical thrills you will encounter in the next pages.

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is an easy book to love. You will be hooked from the first page into this strange yet familiar memory the anonymous protagonist finds himself thrown into. A memory he had forgotten about entirely. Filled with magic, wonder, the supernatural and fear.

“Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences. I was a child, which meant that I knew a dozen different ways of getting out of our property and into the lane, ways that would not involve walking down our drive.”

The prose in the book leads to many points like this, which allow the reader to draw comparisons to their own childhood. Moments lost in time much like the moments in this novel. This quote really embodies and alludes to the exploratory nature of a child’s mind and allows the reader to feel their own nostalgia. I was often traveling into my childhood adventures while reading this book.

“She was also an adult, and when adults fight children, adults always win.”

The main character is one who enjoys the company of books. Which is one of the reasons I believe, he so willingly goes along with the adventures of Lettie who at first is a virtual stranger. The experiences must seem like the tales in his books. Another factor I related to in this story as I read from very early on in my childhood, often daydreaming about the adventures in my novels.

“Nothing’s ever the same,” she said. “Be it a second later or a hundred years. It’s always churning and roiling. And people change as much as oceans.”

Personally, I’m a sucker for oceans as symbolism and I really felt that Lettie’s ‘Ocean’ was a metaphor for knowledge. The ocean may literally be knowledge as there is a supernatural element to this book. As with all books, I’m sure each reader has their own ideas and interpretations concerning what the Ocean is and what it represents.

Once you’ve been around for a bit, you get to know stuff.”

I kicked a stone. “By ‘a bit’ do you mean ‘a really long time’?”

She nodded.

“How old are you, really?” I asked.

“Eleven.”

I thought for a bit. Then I asked, “How long have you been eleven for?”

She smiled at me.”

Lettie is a brilliant character, she has earned her place in my top characters list undoubtedly. The eleven-year-old girl with a wisdom and depth beyond her years and our main characters first real friend. Her character is as much a mystery to us as it is to the narrator and one that I wish had her own novel. She is surely a metaphor for the world being infinitely magical and beyond our understanding. Neil captures this so beautifully and clearly in Lettie’s character.

“That’s the trouble with living things. Don’t last very long. Kittens one day, old cats the next. And then just memories. And the memories fade and blend and smudge together.”

Lettie Hempstock’s family are equally as intriguing, they seem to give the impression they know all there is in the world and also kick some serious ass. I would like to adopt both of them, please. I believe the fact that Old Mrs. Hempstock appears to guide the characters when they are lost might be Neil’s cheeky way of saying we should not underestimate the knowledge of our elders.

“I could have ruled worlds, but I followed you, and I waited, and I had patience. I knew that sooner or later the bounds would loosen, that I would walk the true Earth, beneath the Sun of Heaven.”

When the villain has epic speeches like this, you know they are a worthy one. Like everything else in The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, I adored our antagonist. One who still manages to elicit pity from the reader. I cannot say much without spoiling the plot, but rest assured. Much like the all of this novel she is perfect.

I am now listening to the Audiobook of this novel to hear its perfect prose spoken by Neil himself. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you are on the fence about it allow me to push you over into reading it… Now

RATING:

★★★★★

Annihilation By Jeff Vandermeer | Book Review

Genre: Fantasy/ Thriller
Pages: 195 Pages

“Where lies the strangling fruit that came from the hand of the sinner I shall bring forth the seeds of the dead”

Book Synopsis

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilisation. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In the first volume of the Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition. The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader, and our narrator, the biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

Not in a long time have I felt so utterly consumed by a book. A fact that is especially impressive when you consider it’s relatively short 195 pages. The atmosphere Vandermeer creates draws you in immediately, the world of Area X turns the reader into a moth pulled swiftly into its flame. I read it while on holiday and as soon as I finished was running around the caravan park commanding people to read it and understand its brilliance.

“I felt as If I could do anything as long as I did not mind being watched”

The Biologist introduces us to a mysterious land, untouched by civilisation for decades, and devoid of any humanoid lifeforms; but is that the truth? We follow our narrator as she discovers that the information she’s been given my not be accurate, and wonders just what this place is that she’s been sent to.

Our narrator is flawed. As all the best characters are, and her introverted and highly observational nature makes her the perfect person to tell the happenings and discoveries of the Twelfth expedition. The book is written in a jornal format, which works brilliantly to build tension as you are reading. Throughout the book you have major ‘dont-go-around-that-corner’ feels. 

If the book was in another volunteers perspective who’s career wasn’t looking beyond things people normally see, I’m sure there wouldn’t be nearly as much exquisite detail. Though, considering how fascinating the book is, I would happily have read the book from each characters perspective.

“Can you really imagine what it was like in those first moments, peering down into that dark space and seeing that? Perhaps you can. Perhaps you’re staring at it right now.

The prose throughout the book is perfectly descriptive and filled with the kind of Stephen King esque bone chilling quotes that you keep with you for a while. The memory of the book itself weighs like a heavy breath on my chest, one that I still feel when I glance at it on the shelf.

I read Annihilation in one sitting, completely unable and unwilling to put it down. I can’t accurately express just how much I felt effected by this book other than to say you are surely missing out should you decide not to read it! The urge to discover the mystery will ensure you race through the book and the spine tingling chill you receive from the events that occur will leave you making sure you door is locked at night! Seriously, read it. Read it now. 

“There shall be in the planting in the shadows a grace and a mercy that shall bloom dark flowers, and their teeth shall devour and sustain and herald the passage of an age”

RATING:

★★★★★

American Gods By Neil Gaiman | Review

american gods american gods

Genre: Fantasy/Mythology
Page Count: 704  pages

“I can believe things that are true and things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not.

Neil Gaiman

All Shadow wanted was to quietly do his time in prison and then continue his life with the woman he loves. American Gods follows Shadow, a recently released prisoner as he discovers things he never thought existed. Gods who co-exist among us on earth because people have believed them into reality.

As far as books go, it couldn’t be more up my alley, mythology? check, fantasy? check, twist and turns that consistently delight and surprise you? Triple check.

Neil Gaiman excels at telling not just one story, but multiple stories, filled with unique and intriguing characters which prevent you from ever wanting the story to end. It’s not a simple story and you may as well go along for the ride just like Shadow does and prepare yourself for all the feels.

“All your questions can be answered, if that is what you want. But once you learn your answers, you can never unlearn them.”

I find it hard to place this book in just the fantasy genre because the fantasy is so closely intertwined with horror and mystery throughout.

I read the 10th Anniversary extended edition of the book and I honestly can’t imagine any part of it being left out of the original, every chapter of this book comes together to create an extraordinary tale. I can’t tell you how many times while reading I gasped aloud because of twists and characters that end up connected or end up meeting.

American Gods is the kind of book that makes you fall in love with every element of the story and I can’t wait to read more of Neil Gaiman’s work, this book has easily taken up a spot as one of my favorites.

“People believe, thought Shadow. It’s what people do. They believe, and then they do not take responsibility for their beliefs; they conjure things, and do not trust the conjuration. People populate the darkness; with ghosts, with gods, with electrons, with tales. People imagine, and people believe; and it is that rock solid belief, that makes things happen.”

RATING:

★★★★★

P.S Was anyone reminded of Supernatural while reading it? Especially the Gods existing because enough people believed in them? And the American road trip vibes

If you want to purchase the version with this amazing cover and illustrations, here is the Book Depository link 🙂

The Hobbit Review

the hobbit

the hobbit

“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit”

J.R.R Tolkien

Okay so by now most people have read the Hobbit, but I’m a little late to the party. So this is for the other stragglers like me, it’s time to get onboard!

I loved this story, I mean big time please don’t let this story end kinda love. It has all of the elements of the ultimate fantasy story and brings images alive in your head. The characters draw you in because they are not only complex but flawed like the rest of us.

The story focuses on Bilbo Baggins who is a Hobbit set in his ways passing the days in his Hobbit hole, and Gandalf gives him the chance to go on an adventure, something very un-hobbitlike. Tolkien tells the story of Bilbo learning to step out of his comfort zone and find out what he is made of, allowing him to experience the entire world around him and the magic it has to offer.

“Even the smaller person may change the course of the future”

J.R.R Tolkien

The friendships that develop between the characters are charming and feel very real. Personally, I always enjoy well-written friendships in any novel. The whole book is beautifully written, and many of the quotes have stuck with me.

The comedic element was a surprise and a very welcome one at that! When I say, this story has everything, laughs, tears, action, magic, I really mean it. Seriously, all of the emotions guys, all of them.

It reminded me of how I felt when I first read Harry Potter, and I can’t wait for my Lord of the Rings boxset to arrive so I can delve more into the magical world Tolkien has created.

P.S I have ordered the set with illustrations by Alan Lee! I highly recommend getting your hands on them if you can.