Title: More Than This
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: Science fiction, Young adult
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
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. . . .
I didn't like this at first, but the second half really grew on me. It's been nearly a month since I read this, so my memory is slightly hazy, but I remember all the important things!
I have absolutely loved every Patrick Ness novel I have read (The Chaos walking trilogy and A Monster Calls), so obviously I had huge expectations for this book. This was a bit of a problem - I really wanted to read this book and be thrilled and happy and bask in its brilliance, but I also really didn't want to start because what if I didn't like it?
The premise sounded right up my alley, and the prologue had my heart racing - it was exactly the horrifying yet gorgeous story I was expecting. Then the next 100 pages happened.
It wasn't so much that they were bad, but it was a lot less "classy" than what I was expecting. There were just a few aspects of the book that would have been fine if this had been written by anyone else, but I had come to expect something more from Ness (oh the irony). The backstories were relevant in the end, I suppose, but I didn't like them as much as the mysterious dream world.
This book starts out as one story, but each part throws the previous one on end and you have to rethink everything you assumed was true. I liked being surprised, and I loved how the new idea was integrated so thoroughly while still maintaining the "truth" of the previous one. I really can't say much without spoiling things, and being thrown for a loop is half the fun with this book.
I also really liked the secondary characters. They don't really come into the story until about halfway in, but they are wonderful people with heartbreaking stories that haunt but absolutely do not define them. I liked how the characters were more than their one "thing" - it's very rare that characters are diverse without the religious/racial/cultural/etc. difference being their defining trait.
In the end, I really liked this story. It was very mysterious and ethereal, and it gave me a lot to think about. I would have liked a few more answers in the end, but I also appreciate the enduring mystery - what's the fun in knowing everything about everything?
I would recommend this to people who are patient readers - it really takes a while for this story to get moving, and you have to be patient with it to get answers. Fans of science fiction and emotional stories will also not be disappointed.