Welcome to the comments and discussion of the Young Adult Cancer Book Club! We are reading A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, after an idea inspired by Siobhan Dowd. Catch up on pages 1-22 and pages 23-43.
Let’s get started!
Commentary by Jessica:
“The Wildness of Stories”
In this chapter, Conor is dealing with the inconvenience of giving up his room to his grandma and is worried that his mom is not recovering from treatment as quickly as she used to. Conor’s annoyance and anger about his situation carry over to his encounter with the monster who has the nerve to show up 2 minutes late. The monster is amazed that Conor does not seem to be afraid of him and questions exactly what does scare him. Conor wonders if perhaps the monster was there to help Conor with the problems he’s having with his grandma. This leads to the monster’s first story.
“The First Tale” and “The Rest of the First Tale”
The monster’s first story is a fairy tale (though he swears it’s true) about a prince and his “evil” stepmother. The prince’s father dies when the prince is 17, one year before he can take the throne. In the meantime, his stepmother takes over the throne. The queen is suspected of being a witch who poisoned her husband. In order to continue her reign as queen, the stepmother decides that maybe the best course of action would be to marry the prince (yuck!). The prince, however, has fallen in love with a farmer’s daughter and has no desire to marry his own stepmother (again, yuck!), so he runs away with the farmer’s daughter with a plan to return on his 18th birthday to take his rightful place on the thrown. After a night under the yew tree (aka, the monster) the prince awakens to find his future bride stabbed to death. He runs to some local villagers for help and tells them the queen has killed his bride. This angers the villagers and they condemn the queen to death by burning at the stake. At the last minute, the monster rescues the queen and brings her to a seaside village so she can live the rest of her life in peace. Conor questions this decision, but the monster reveals that the prince had been deceptive and had actually killed his bride himself and blamed the queen because he believed that doing so would overthrow a great evil. It raises the question of whether or not the queen was truly evil and whether the prince did the right thing. Conor wonders if the monster is telling him this to convince him to be nicer to his grandma, but the monster laughs and says he’s not giving lessons in niceness. He’s really showing Conor that there is not always a good guy and a bad guy. People are usually somewhere in between. The encounter with the monster ends with the monster telling Conor that his grandma is not the one Conor needs to be saved from, which raises the question, who does the monster think Conor needs saving from?
Join in next Monday for comments and discussion on the next 20 pages of the book!
Thanks for joining us for pages 44-65 (“The Wildness of Stories,” “The First Tale,” and “The Rest of the First Tale”) of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness! Join in next Monday for the next chapters of the book!
We will talk about a few chapters each Monday until the book is done. If Monday happens to be a holiday, then the post will publish on Tuesday. Once we finish the book, we’ll use one more Monday to talk about general feelings from the book and anything else you’d like to discuss. We’ll also have a video chat book club discussion at the end! Join in, in the comments every week! Also, there will probably be spoilers so read along with us!
Excited about the young adult cancer book club? Have any suggestions for future reads? Let us know!