Published by Walker Books Australia on September 5, 2013
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