A MONSTER CALLS
This was a book like no other, and even after all this time has passed, it’s still fervently in my mind. I’m sure it’s a book I will reread again.
First, the Tales….. A wonderful part of the book in which the endings could surprise anyone. Before I go any further, there WILL BE SPOILERS. At this point, I’ve had time to think, and there’s no point Pondering when you have to hold back on details, so, you have been warned…
The First Tale: the tale of the prince and the queen. Well, it was quite a bit of information to take in in so little time. First there was a King with four sons, all was well. Then the four sons died in war, leaving him only with an infant grandson. After a while the King decided that he should remarry. The marriage was good, and the grandson was to take over the thrown when he turned eighteen; however, before the prince could turn eighteen, the king died from an illness, which was blamed on the Queen. However, the Queen ruled wonderfully. However, after the prince came closer and closer to his birthday, the Queen wanted to marry the prince to keep the crown in the family. However, the prince had fallen in love with a farmer’s daughter. After hearing what the Queen had in mind, he ran away with the girl and intended to hide until he was eighteen. After one morning of being together, the prince woke up to see the girl had been murdered, he ran in a panic and raised the people against the Queen, claiming it was her who had murdered is lover. After the people had captured they burned her at the stake for witchcraft. However, at the last second, the monster saved the Queen.
What? Saved the Queen? Let’s just say I was as shocked as Conor when I heard that, until The Monster revealed the answer. The Prince had killed the farmer’s daughter. He killed her for the greater good. He knew that the people would never rise with him against the Queen without a real solid reason, and therefore, he would loose his thrown. But the funny thing is that the Queen really was a witch, and whether she really did kill the king is unclear (I really don’t think she did, I believe she loved him and she hadn’t quite had a taste for the throne yet, not enough to kill him for it). However, The Monster made clear to Conor that sometimes, there are neither good nor bad people, just people. Which of course was told to Conor to help him understand that despite how cruel his grandmother was being, there was another side to the story he didn’t understand. She was not the villain, she was merely a person doing her best, despite the terrible circumstances.
Now, I’m always trying to read into things… One part I felt was trying to say something was how the four princes were killed: by the fire of a dragon, the hands of a giant, the teeth of a wolf, and the spear of a man. I tried looking up the symbolism in those creatures and such, but nothing…. There was too much, like dragons had several aspects to them, they were both feared and renowned for their power. So I hit a dead end, but what about you? Any suggestions? There has to be something….
The Second Tale: the third tale seemed rather random, and I don’t quite understand the reason for it yet. It’s about a cold hearted Apothocary who wanted to cut down a yew tree that grew next to the church. The parson in charge of the tree refused to give it to the Apothecary (most likely because he was a cruel man, and he himself was rather…), and he turned the whole town against the Apothecary. After time had passed, a terrible sickness breaks out and the parson’s two daughters fall ill. He goes to the Apothecary to seek help, telling him he’ll not only give him the yew tree, but he’ll give up his religion, his job. The Apothecary refused, and in the end, The Monster destroyed the parson’s home.
Wow. Intense. Even after hearing the truth about everything it was still a shocking ending. The parson deserved it, but to be honest, the Apothecary deserved to be punished too. Out of spite, hundreds of people died, including the parson’s two daughters.
The real shock was that, when Conor helped The Monster destroy the house, it turned out that Conor destroyed his grandma’s living room, which she did NOT allow him into. Her response…. Was amazingly written, emotions were extremely intense. The story though, what was the point? What was the point to the story? What lesson did it teach? I still don’t get it, even after all this time. Any thoughts?
What comes to mind is, the parson was a liar, he claimed to be an important parson of the church and judged the Apothecary, but when it came down to it he turned his back on it. On his own religion! If he had been a true parson, he wouldn’t have done such a thing. The Apothecary, though cruel of heart and selfish, was true to himself; he was who he was and never faultered. Perpahs The Monster believed that it is better to be your true self rather then lie to yourself about who you think you are, which was a bit of a struggle for Conor, (perfectly understandable at the time, because he wanted to deny his pain rather than admitting it to others). Conor needed to face his fears and admit what he was going through; he needed to be who he was rather than keep denying it not only to himself, but to others.
The Third Tale: The Invisible Man. This was an extremely strange tale, and seemed a little… Unproductive? It was short and told entirely different than the others. He told it while Conor was on the verge of a fight at school, so they coincided with each other. It was about a man who was “invisible”. Or, as The Monster explained, “It was that people had become used to not seeing him.” After a while he grew tired of it and called for A Monster. Now, what makes this tale different is not just that it’s told while Conor is experiencing a fight, but it doesn’t really have any justification in the end. For the first tale, the prince tricked the people and the witch was saved, in the second tale the patron was punished for his faulty beliefs, but here, a man was just mad that he was being ignored, which can show a lack of control, and a little bit of anger issues. (I’m not trying to judge, because I am someone who can’t stand to be alone so I would go crazy too)
So why did The Monster respond? Why did he help him? At this point all I can say is that Conor has come closer and closer to revealing his true feelings, and is finally admitting the truth, so it’s not just about listening to other peoples’ stories, it’s about telling his own.
Which leads me too (we’ve all been waiting for this, and I actually almost forgot to talk about it) the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The first we see is denial. Conor is in constant denial throughout the whole book, in fact I believe it’s all about him accepting what is happening, but the denial is most clear in the beginning. Next we see anger. It’s slightly confusing here, because it appears more as if he is mad at his dad and his grandmother rather than just angry at what is happening, but his anger was coming from his sadness. It was also challenging his “fantasy.” What was the point of everyone planning for a future without his mother if she was going to get better? His anger grew more and more, and he himself didn’t realize what he was capable of until he destroyed his grandmother’s living room.
I just want to take a moment here and talk about this scene…
In the split second after she came around the corner to the sitting room, still fiddling with her handbag, before she registered where Conor was or what had happened, he saw her face, how tired it was, no news on it, good or bad, just the same old night at the hospital with Conor’s mum, the same old night that was wearing them both so thin.
Then she looked up.
“What the–?” she said, stopping herself by reflex from saying hell in front of Conor. She froze, still holding her handbag in midair. Only her eyes moved, taking in the destruction of the sitting room in disbelief, almost refusing to see what was really there. Conor couldn’t even hear her breathing.
And then she looked at him, her mouth open, her eyes open wide, too. She saw him standing there in the middle of it, his hands bloodied with his work.
Her mouth closed, but it didn’t close into its usual hard shape. It trembled and shook, as if she was fighting back tears, as if she could barely hold the rest of her face together.
And then she groaned, deep in her chest, her mouth still closed.
It was a sound so painful, Conor could barely keep himself from putting his hands over his ears.
She made it again. And again. And then again until it became a single sound, a single ongoing horrible groan. Her handbag fell to the floor. She put her palms over her mouth as if that was all that would hold back the horrible, groaning, moaning, keening sound flooding out of her.
“Grandma?” Conor said, his voice high and tight with terror.
And then she screamed
She took away her hands, balling them into fists, opened her mouth wide and screamed. Screamed so loudly that Conor did put his hands up to his ears. She wasn’t looking at him, she wasn’t looking at anything, just screaming into air.
Conor had never been so frightened in all his life. It was like standing at the end of the world, almost like being alive and awake in his nightmare, the screaming, the emptiness–
Then she stepped into the room.
Sorry it was so long, but I just LOVE this scene. It went on even more, where she grabbed her clock and threw it, I just didn’t want to copy too much. This scene right here should go down in history, it’s so powerful. Her response is quite interesting to me. She, not at one point, seemed mad at him. He was afraid of it, he was waiting for it, but it didn’t come. She was just in so much shock, she couldn’t respond, and after admitting it, she realized she was tired and angry too. I should probably spend more time here, but let’s keep going.
Next part: bargaining. This happened about the same time as anger. When his mother was being treated with a medicine that contained ingredients from a yew tree, Conor was certain she would be healed, after The Monster had told him yew trees were healing trees. But it didn’t work. It didn’t work even a little bit and Conor was extremely frustrated. He hated The Monster and told him to heal her, saying that it was his duty to (at this point he believed that The Monster came because his mother called). So at this point, Conor bargained with The Monster to save his mother. It was right after this that he came to depression. He finally admitted that The Monster could not save his mother, that there was nothing anyone could do anymore. After admitting his anger and his denial (a little bit) he is very depressed, he can’t even look at his mother. He can’t argue with anyone anymore, everything simply just is. Which leads to the final stage: acceptance. This literally happens at the last couple of chapters, right after he tells his tale to The Monster. His truth.
In his tale, Conor sees his mother. She falls off a cliff, but he grabs her just in time. However, he just can’t hold on to her, and she is dragged down by the nightmare. It was difficult to discern what the truth was that Conor was trying to deny so much, but when he finally admitted it, it made sense…. He wanted her gone. Not in the sense that he didn’t want her around anymore, but that he didn’t want her to suffer anymore. There was this show I watched where this mother was dying of cancer. She had a wish where if her heart stopped, do not start it again. However, when she was in the hospital her heart stopped and the doctor disregarded her wishes and brought her back. He had pressured her family, her husband and little girl, who didn’t know what to do, so they let him. In the end, she still died months later. Was it worth it? She died, they brought her back only to suffer more, and she died again. It was quite a tragic scene, and this book reminded me a little of it. Conor loved his mother so much, he didn’t want her to die, he wanted to stay with her forever, but she just couldn’t, she was just too sick and too tired, and Conor finally admitted to it. I was balling at this scene when he admitted the truth. I just couldn’t take it… For such a young boy to feel so responsible for such thoughts, and to blame himself that she was dying. I would give anything to see The Monster’s face when Conor admitted everything. Was he happy? Filled with relief? Was he sad when the boy blamed himself? It was truly a devastating scene, and the artwork shown when Conor falls asleep in The Monster’s hands was absolutely beautiful.
Now, before I wrap this up, I want to mention one more scene…. The last full conversation between Conor and his mother.
“It’s okay that you’re angry, sweetheart,” she said. “It really is.” She gave a little laugh. “I’m pretty angry, too, to tell you the truth. But I want you to know this, Conor, it’s important that you listen to me. Are you listening?”
She reached out for him again. After a second, he let her take his hand, but her grip was so weak, so weak.
“You be as angry as you need to be,” she said. “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Not your grandmother, not your dad, no one. And if you need to break things, then by God, you break them good and hard.”
He couldn’t look at her. He just couldn’t.
“And if, one day,” she said, really crying now, “you look back and you feel bad for being so angry, if you feel bad for being so angry at me that you couldn’t even speak to me, then you have to know, Conor, you have to know that it was okay. It was okay. That I knew. I know, okay? I know everything you need to tell me without you having to say it out loud. All right?”
He still couldn’t look at her. He couldn’t raise his head, it felt so heavy. He was bent in two, like he was being torn right through the middle.
But he nodded
There really isn’t much to say about this scene, everything pretty much goes without saying… You can imagine how hard I was crying when reading this. He didn’t understand what she meant yet, but you can imagine my absolute relief when he came to her in time. He admitted his feelings to The Monster, then to his mother, and he was finally able to let go. It was hard. This book. It was extremely intense and I had to take several days after finishing to take a step back and understand it all. It was overwhelming, stunning, beautiful, and so many other things I can’t describe. It will always be an important book to me, a book I will most certainly pass down to my kids.
I’m sure I’ll come back to this Pondering after the movie comes out in January of next year (2017). I am EXTATIC! I can’t wait to see it! Now, I know better than to expect a lot from movies based on books, but the trailer is very promising….
A Monster Calls Movie (2017)
And it’s happened!! I saw the second showing (wanted to see the first but I saw another movie right before it so I had no choice) on Thursday the 5th of January at 9:45! And I have to say I was more than impressed. Now, I don’t want to repeat all I said in the movie too much, it was great it was fantastic, pretty much happy with everything! Except the ending… Now, this will definitely contain SPOILERS, so you have been warned….
Now, the ending scene consisted of Conor looking at his new room that his Grandmother prepared for him. The shocking part was his mother’s art book was on a table and it contained pictures of The Monster, as well as characters from the tales. NOW, why was I not happy with this? Well, the book definitely hinted at his mother having some knowledge of the tree. Throughout the book she went on and on about what a wonderful tree it was, that doesn’t necessarily tell you she new The Monster, but it’s a hint. That’s why I wasn’t happy with the movie giving an answer, because the book left it up to you to decide whether she knew him or not, and I liked that aspect of mystery, why give all the answers. I wasn’t devastated by the scene obviously, I just would have preferred it if it had not been included.
Now, if you’re here I can only imagine you’ve read my complete Ponderings above, so you know my two favorite scenes…. The Living Room and the last full conversation between Conor and his mother. The Living Room scene in the movie was pretty good, but not perfect…. Why am I bothered enough to tell you? Well, it’s my favorite scene and I feel that there is an aspect they added which should not have been added. The Grandmother appeared angry. This upsets me because I never got that impression from her (when I say angry I mean angry at Conor. She was angry, just at something else), and that added to the fact that Conor wasn’t the only one suffering. She saw the destruction of her living room, took a second to process, freaked out, then gave in. She never yelled at him (she yelled I just don’t think it was at him…), nor glared at him so ferociously, but in the movie, it did appear as if she was ready to pummel him, she just didn’t go through with it. Not terrible, just not perfect.
The next scene is the last conversation between Conor and his mother. This was very close, and I was pretty happy with it, but they swapped the word order, which can change the intensity of the scene drastically. In the book, his mother speaks to him about how if he’s angry and if he needs to break things just do it and forget what everyone says. But then at the end she says that it’s okay. Why I wasn’t too happy with the movie was because she said it’s okay first…. That changes everything. She goes on and on about being angry, and then you hear her say that when he realizes what he’s done, don’t worry, because she knew and it’s okay. That just breaks your heart. You can assume what she’ll say but that doesn’t make it easier to handle. So the fact that they changed that up a bit was disappointing, but again, not jaw dropping.
There really isn’t too much to say, I was very happy, and I’ll certainly buy it when it comes out. It wasn’t perfect, but when are movies? If reading this encourages you to watch, enjoy, and if you’ve watched and have your own thoughts and opinions, please share, I’d love to hear your theories.