More Than This by Patrick Ness
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, LGBT
Publishing Info: 2015 by Walker Books (first published 2013)
Star Rating: 4/5
Back Cover Summary:
From two-time Carnegie Medal winner Patrick Ness comes an enthralling and provocative new novel chronicling the life — or perhaps afterlife — of a teen trapped in a crumbling, abandoned world.
A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this. . . .
The intriguing back cover description of this book caught my attention. The first half, however, didn’t. I started this book in February and got half way through it before I had to put it down due to heavy university workload. It has taken me a long time to pick it back up again, even though I finished uni in July and have had plenty of free time. At first, I felt really engaged. The book threw up so many questions, I wanted to keep reading and find out the answers to them. However, it didn’t go anywhere. The first half is so slow and the plot so stagnant I started to lose interest.
When I picked it back up again a couple of weeks ago, it wasn’t hard to orientate myself again even though it was so long since I last read it, because so little happened. From the midpoint of the novel things start picking up and the plot moves forward instead of just stagnating. It is quite a heavy read though.
The one thing I did like about the slow first half is that it reflected the main character’s isolation and the length of time he was alone for. That was very effective, and I found it so at the time I was reading, but that first half just dragged on for a bit too long. The same effect would have been created if that section had been a bit shorter.
The characters are good. I liked Regine and Thomasz because they weren’t perfect characters. They were well rounded with flaws and depth to them. I also liked how the book played on reader expectations. The main character often thinks of what would happen if he were in a story, which is clever as the book refers to its own form.
The ending is quite ambiguous, which really works for this novel. It leads the reader to ask questions, to question the reality of what they’ve just read, and to think about the issues brought up in the book.
This book treats young adults as intelligent. A lot of YA, not all, follow cookie cutter formulas and don’t really push young readers or make them think. There’s nothing wrong with this kind of book. I do like a good easy read. But it is good that a book like this is out there too, because it’s the sort that really does make you think, and that’s a great thing to have in YA publishing.