Patrick Ness brings us Siobhan Dowd's last idea, a simple story about a boy called Conor, and takes us through the stages of grief as he slowly comes to terms with his mother's illness. I can strongly relate to Conor - I was 16 when my mother died of Multiple Sclerosis. It was a pretty horrible time and Conor's truth is something I can relate to - but I didn't feel guilty about it. I think Conor's age (14 I believe) may have something to do with why he feels so guilty, although 14 and 16 is a relatively small age gap, it's pretty huge in terms of mental development.
The curse of the hype - it gets to us all. There was so much hype surrounding this book, that I eagerly bought a copy, and read it with a lot of anticipation, waiting to be moved to tears when I got to the end. Only... that didn't happen. And now I'm left with a sort of 'is that it?' feeling. Don't get me wrong, the ending was beautifully sad, the drawings were as wild and destructive as Conor's monster, everything was perfect. But I was just waiting for more. The story itself is exactly what I expected. Simple, yet full of mystery until we get to that final chapter, the ending we've all been waiting for. I found the ending painfully obvious and spent a lot of the book waiting and hoping for a twist in the tale.
Altogether, the book really pulled me in and kept me reaidng from the beginning right to the very end which is pretty impressive, even for a short book. I do wish there would have been stronger character development, particularly Conor's father who was the most stereotypical character in the book. The illustrations are much stronger than the actual story which I'm not sure is a good thing but they were pretty amazing! If you buy this for any reason, buy it for the illustrator.