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ARTS & CULTUREBOOK REVIEW
Monster Calls, when Greatest Nightmares Come True
Jeong Yeon Soo  |  lauren98@korea.ac.kr
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승인 2019.12.06  22:52:18
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▲ |The Book Cover of A Monster Calls. PROVIDED BY AMAZON

Nowadays, there are a lot of best-selling self-improvement books that give advice on how to develop oneself and achieve one’s goal. They concentrate on the act of reaching the target, deeming those dreams as simply palatable as the sweet taste of honey. While most societies consider a dream desirable as such, not all dreams are positive. Here is a boy whose nightmares come true where what he least wants to admit is personified into a monster and actually visits him. Instead of dreams that usually provide hope for others, the boy is captured with terror. Sometimes, dreams come true in an unexpected way.

A Monster Calls (2011), written by Patrick Ness, introduces the story of Conor, the protagonist, who constantly suffers from recurring nightmares of a monster pulling his ill mother down into a pit. Every time the tree monster visits, it tells a story, providing a common lesson that there is no absolute good or bad, but people are always somewhere in between. Through the clumsy yet heartfelt comfort the monster provides, Conor gradually frees himself of guilt that he felt for his dying mother over a long period of time.
The book is the first ever novel to win both the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, receiving its recognition through the prestigious awards. While the book was initially written for young adults, it proves to be even more useful for adults, who are physically grown yet insufficiently mature inside. The novel serves as a guide for people unfamiliar with experiencing death, by providing profound and poignant advice through the theme of isolation and suffering.
In the story, everyone other than the monster simply provides superficial help to Conor, who struggles with his mother suffering from cancer. No one really steps in to reveal the truth, in fear of the depth of emotion and reality that will have to be faced with. The monster, though, shows the truth through Conor’s nightmares by showing him that, no matter how hard he grabs onto his mother, she will ultimately fall down the cliff. The monster simply pats on his shoulder that it is fine to let go of things that he has held on to for a long time.
The novel brings in an imaginative character to comfort Conor by introducing someone for him to talk to and to teach him that everyone has their suffering and they have to cope with it. At the end of the novel, not only Conor but also readers learn that he cannot avoid his mom’s death and he finally understands how to cope with it. While a great number of books in the past especially concentrated on showing positive emotions, this book flexibly illustrates negative emotions, artistically showing how to deal with negative emotions that are unavoidable and providing a source of consolation.
A Monster Calls, with its distinctive characters, strikes the eye of readers in terms of the harmonious fusion of a children’s story and the thorough lesson it presents. The novel throws fresh light on the notion of the dream itself, easily readable for any audience without stress or pressure. The book successfully provides comfort for anyone who is faced with the upcoming death of their family members or acquaintances, and for whoever is facing emotional losses.
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