A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies.
Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive.
How can this be? And what is this strange deserted place?
As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?
From multi-award-winning Patrick Ness comes one of the most provocative and moving novels of our time.
I feel like whatever I say in this review will be a spoiler. It is best to read this book knowing nothing, apart from the basic summary. I’ll try and keep this review brief and not reveal too much (hopefully).
More Than This follows a young boy called Seth, who drowns and dies, but then he wakes up.
Seth wakes up in a coffin bruised and injured in a familiar house where he grew up in England and he believes he’s in his own personal hell. What happened? He’s dead, so this must be the price he has to pay for drowning, right? He acknowledges that he’s in England, the place where he grew up before moving to America. Looking around his hometown, it is abandoned and destroyed (a bit like Rick from the Walking Dead when he wakes up, except no zombies). He finds himself alone…or so he thought.
This is a 480-page book and usually this kind of length would take me roughly 7-8 days (or more), but surprisingly I found myself flying through this book! I couldn’t put it down. The story itself is very mysterious and the writing is compelling. I wanted to know more and understand this world that Patrick Ness has created and see where it was going, because from the very beginning, it was vague. I like how I sort of got it and didn’t? The pacing was slow to begin with but it was never boring.
Seth’s memories are vague and clouded; all he remembers is drowning, but we don’t find out the reason he drowned until later on in the story. The writing sometimes jump back and forth between the present and past, and from this we learn that his vivid dreams tells us more about Seth’s past, such as the moving why he had to move to America, his relationship with a boy called Gudmund and the truth of what really happened to his little brother Owen.
“People see stories everywhere,” Regine says. “That’s what my father used to say. We take random events and we put them together in a pattern so we can comfort ourselves with a story, no matter how much it obviously isn’t true.” She glances back at Seth. “We have to lie to ourselves to live. Otherwise, we’d go crazy.”
I noticed there a lot of diversity within the characters, which I like. There should be more diversity in YA! Seth isn’t completely alone in abandoned England, as he thinks he is. He meets two unlikely allies. A girl called Regine and a Polish boy called Tomasz. Even though Regine and Tomasz are only secondary characters, I like how Ness gives them important roles within the story. Like Seth, both Regine and Tomasz have painful pasts. These characters are flawed, they’re not perfect but they’re real. I was not particularly attached to these characters, but Ness has written fantastic character development, which were one of the things that kept me interested in the story.
“Real life is only ever just real life. Messy. What it means depends on how you look at it. The only thing you’ve got to do is find a way to live there.”
“Now that I know there’s more? I want to have more. If there really is more to life, I want to live all of it. And why shouldn’t all of us? don’t we deserve that?”
I think the morale of the story is about survival and life, but its also questioning what is real and what isn’t real. There were also a lot of topics dealt with in this book and the way it was written didn’t feel like there was too much going on. I love how Ness was able to carefully wield all these different topics together and turn it into a meaningful story.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The ending was kind of anticlimactic. I don’t think I got closure. It was open to interpretation and I was expecting more than this (no pun intended). However, I got some answers and understood what was happening in this futuristic world and some things did come together in a fairly content conclusion.
I say definitely pick this one up, especially if you’re a fan of Patrick Ness, but if you are new to his books then I’d say start with the Chaos Walking Trilogy.