This story packs a punch. With spare, powerful prose the author portrays a character growing increasingly angry and isolated from the world around him. The imagery is surreal and poignant, and often it's difficult to tell what is real and what isn't. Because the hero often struggles to determine (or admit) what is real and what isn't, the imagery is a nice echo of what is going on in the character's mind.
For such a fast read, this story has depth and heart for a discerning reader to reflect on. The pacing is quick, but the story itself feels like it slowly unfolds, the tension increasing with every chapter until the reader is scared to peel back the final layer and look at the truth that lies beneath.
Truth is the heart of this book. In a story that deals with grief, anger, isolation, and loss in such a short span of time, there is a danger of skimming the surface or giving the character an easy way out. Mr. Ness avoids these pitfalls and instead strips the story to its basic elements and gives both the hero and the reader and unflinching dose of truth that might be exactly what a reader struggling with those same issues desperately needs to hear.
This is a book I will push into readers' hands for a very long time. I recommend it for classrooms, libraries, and homeschoolers looking for a powerful book (with an in-depth discussion guide included!) for their upper middle grade to high school students.
Powerful, evocative, and utterly compelling, A MONSTER CALLS is a must read.