More Than This by Patrick Ness Review: Exploring the meaning of life

December 20, 2013 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 4 stars, Books, Reviews

More Than This by Patrick Ness Review: Exploring the meaning of lifeMore Than This by Patrick Ness
Published by Walker Books Australia on September 5, 2013
Source: Publisher
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
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A boy called 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 is 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 neighbourhood 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...

More Than This is an incredibly deep and thought-provoking book, addressing philosophical questions such as: What happens to life after death? What happens if life isn’t what we think it is? What if all our beliefs are thrown out the window…is there more than this?

As the story opens with Seth drowning in an ocean, and then awakening in a strange but familiar place, we are struck with a powerful, enveloping sense of loneliness and confusion that he experiences. Seth’s emotions and reflection of his actions leading up to his death are told during flashbacks, with barely any dialogue. The flashbacks contain a wonderful contrast to the empty world where he awakens, they are so full of life and love with his friend Gudmund, his younger brother Owen, his parents and friends.

The story moves through several different stages, from Seth waking up alone and discovering strange paradoxes within the new world, to developing an unlikely friendship with other residents Regina and Thomasz, and encountering the secrets within the world and the ominous figure in a black van called “the Driver”. His new friends are the clue to discovering more about this world that he has woken up in, and their stories are poignant.

Throughout the book, the whole story was shrouded in a sense of mystery and painstaking suspense. One one hand, I wanted to savour the beautiful passages that I was witnessing, and on the other I just wanted to know what was going on. After trudging through vague memories and obscure conversations, and giving you hints through Seth’s observations and understandings, the book finally delivers the final piece to the puzzle. More Than This isn’t simply about telling you the solution to the mystery, it’s about experiencing it, witnessing it, putting together clues throughout the book to arrive at a final solution. Ness is a master of creating mystery, intrigue and suspense and the story is left quite open-ended. Even though we’re told what is behind the world, I feel like there’s still more that I need to explore in my head. This is a story that is intended to be viewed philosophically, and there are quite a few passages that refer to that in the book.

The reason why I took off .5 stars is because of its open ending, for so much mystery and tension, the big reveal felt like a bit of a letdown. It’s frustating not getting closure for Seth and the rest of the characters. The story was also kind of vague and I fail to draw any parallels that will give the book more meaning.

Is it a sci-fi? A dystopian? Thriller? Or something more? Patrick Ness seamlessly blends several genres to deliver an impactful, philosophical novel that can be considered a literary masterpiece. I was amazed at the masterful literary experience in More Than This, Patrick Ness’s writing is fluid and lyrical, creating a large emotional impact with a few well placed words. This is my first Ness, and I can’t wait to read more.

Thank you to Walker Books Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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20 responses to “More Than This by Patrick Ness Review: Exploring the meaning of life

  1. Bookworm

    Read it guys. Just freaking read it! The book caught my eye when I was searching for good books in the bookstore for nearly an hour and I didnt regret that I bought it.

    Of course, the cover really drew my attention. Reading through the chapters, I kept closing it and observing the cover, tryna figure out what it meant. Bcuz there's a damn lotta things that u can relate to the cover.

    At first I thought it was just a boy hidden in his closet, trying to come out.

    But that wasn't it.

    Like the name of the book itself, there's MORE than that. Even the ending (not gonna spoil you)

    JUST READ IT! I couldnt put it down I swear!

  2. This book was so confusing and awesome at the same time. I loved the mystery and how weird everything was. The characters were great, the feedbacks were fantastic and I liked the writing-style. But yes, the ending was a bit anti-climax and I don't like how open and vague it was.
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  3. I don't generally respond to open endings very well, as I always seem to need some definite closure, but I still really like the sound of this and look forward to giving it a go. I haven't actually read anything by Patrick Ness before, but I've heard nothing but good things about his writing. I'm glad you were ultimately impressed with this one, Jeann. Lovely review! 🙂
    Sam @ Realm of Ficti recently posted…Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerMy Profile

  4. I've been listening to the audiobook of Ness's Knife of Letting Go and it's super weird but so unique! I really like it and I've been seeing really good reviews on this one as well. The other series is also a blend of genres so it's cool to see this one is not set in one either. I like how different it makes it. I will def. have to give this one a try it sounds kind of fascinating! Glad to know about the ending though I'm not a huge fan of open ended endings but sometimes they do work.
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  5. I am so happy that your first Ness experience is as engaging as mine, Jeann! More than this is already on my TBR after The Crane Wife impressed me. What you said the book being lyrical is really true. I think it's one of Ness' writing trademarks. Plus that confusion about the true genre of a book is also a brand of his. The Crane Wife has also left me confused whether it's a contemporary or a fantasy.

    What a pity that it has an open ending. I just hate it when authors do that. My imagination isn't that rich and I prefer my books nicely wrapped up. *sighs*
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    • Oooh I can't wait to read The Crane Wife, I've heard it's odd and unexpected but that's what I like when I'm in the mood for it. I like how he blends genres seamlessly. I think the open ending was the intention.

  6. I know how you felt about the open-ending, but I find that this book did open my mind to a lot of things about life, death, and more. Ness really is masterful when it comes to sucking you in the world he's made. I really did love this book and how it made me feel whilst reading it. I'm still on the lookout to get a hardcopy of this book!
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    • I thought it was interesting in the way he explored the "Afterlife" it was so fascinating and a place where no one has ventured! I thought it was fantastic, hope you get your hands on it soon.

  7. Wow, beautiful review Jeann! This sounds like such an intriguing book, but I really suck at wrapping my head around philosophical reads. This book definitely sounds like something you need to read more than once to understand and find all the hidden meaning behind the story.

    The cover made me think it was another random contemporary novel, but I guess I was wrong. Definitely shouldn't be judging it by its cover. 😛

    Happy Holidays! x
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  8. Ahh I found this book in a bookstore, the cover is so unique! I haven't read any Patrick Ness books, everyone seems love his previous books and I'm tempted to get one 🙂 I'll look forward for this one too, hope the ending is not really disappointing. Anyway this is a stand alone, right?

    • I know, it looks amazing doesn't it? I want to read more Ness after this, especially after all the raves about the Chaos Walking series. His writing is amazing. Yup, it's a stand alone and the ending was good, just open-ended.

  9. I haven't heard much about this one…but I love that cover. It's really eye-catching. I know how it feels when the "big thing" is a bit of a letdown. Gaaah. The book I just finished threw a weird ending in my face. Still unsure how to compute that. >_< I'm pretty keen to try More Than This, though!

    • I know, it caught my eye at the bookstore and it's a beautiful hardback where the little door is a window! Eeek, maybe give it a break before you head into another with a weird ending. Sometimes I don't want to think too much about things XD