Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

Posted November 29, 2013 by Debby in Book Reviews

Book Review: More Than This by Patrick NessMore Than This by Patrick Ness
Published by Candlewick Press on September 10th, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 480
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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. . . .

4 Stars

More Than This was introduced to me as being a dystopia. As I started reading, I was puzzled. It wasn’t a dystopia until past halfway into the book. All along the way I was asking myself, “Well then, how would you describe it?” I couldn’t answer my own question. Because More Than This is precisely that unique. There’s no other book like it. And that alone makes it a book worth reading.

From the first page, More Than This draws you in. Seth drowns and then… wakes up. All alone in an abandoned world. The beginning is a bit slow, because through flashbacks, you gradually find out what happened to Seth before his death and who he is. Meanwhile, he… eats and sleeps. Yeah, the first part of the book wasn’t exactly the best. While I did feel some strange pull to keep reading, to find out exactly what happened and desperate for clues as to where he was, I did think it was rather annoying that there were so many flashbacks. It really toed the acceptable line for me, because at a certain point I just want to move FORWARD and not keep looking back. However, what those flashbacks revealed was truly heartbreaking, so I didn’t mind as much as I otherwise would. I just had so much sympathy for Seth.

Seth’s previous life was truly interesting, and I want to give props in particular to the romance. Okay, I debated whether or not to write this, because it’s not like a massive spoiler, but it surprised me and that made me quite happy. But others have not been regarding at a spoiler, so whatever. Seth is actually gay. And he had a boyfriend, and… it was all so normal. Like, it wasn’t a big thing. It was just a part of his life. And it wasn’t a major plot point. It didn’t define his character. This, authors, this is how I want to see LGBT representation in books. It made me so freaking happy. I was practically jumping for joy.

Anyway, at a certain point, the flashbacks mostly end and the action kicks in. Damn the mindfuckery and high paced action of this book. It became a pageturner. I was desperate for answers, and it was all just so awesome. I read the last 100 pages or so in the 1.5 hour commute on the way home. I’m a pretty slow reader, so that is massive for me. Anyway, Seth gets some sidekicks in Tomasz and Regine and even though these secondary characters arrive late in the game, they are awesome and well-developed. I particularly fell for Tomasz. That little boy… so adorable.

More Than This is a book that you’ll definitely not want to read alone. Because when you’re done, it’s the kind of book you want to discuss. It doesn’t spell everything out for you, and certain elements are entirely up to your own interpretation. Plus, the uniqueness begs for discussion. In that case, I was very happy that this sort of by accident became the first read of my book club. Of course, when we met up, all of like 10 minutes was spent actually discussing the book, but it was nice to get some other ideas from other people, particularly regarding the ending. That ending, man. I felt it coming, to be honest. While reading, I picked up hints of similarities to The Matrix and Inception, and I just knew what we would end up with. I was right. And that would probably be my other disappointment with the book. I mean, it fit the story, but I like an ending with… a bit more substance. But I did like that it would initiate such discussions. Um. Yeah, I’m torn. Can you tell?

Summing Up:

While I wouldn’t label this book as an absolute favorite, it was an absolutely great reading experience. I had no idea where the story was going, there were a ton of twists, and I was desperate to get to the ending. It was a wild ride. For representing LGBT so well, Patrick Ness gets massive props from me. And after knowing how engrossing his writing style can be, how his characters can touch my heart, and how unpredictable and unique his stories can be, I went out and bought The Knife of Never Letting Go. Finally giving into that. Yes, Daph. You’re proud of me. I know. But yeah, this book has convinced me of his greatness for sure.

GIF it to me straight!

Recommended To:

Anyone in the mood for something different, intense, and loaded with mindfuckery.

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11 responses to “Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

  1. I simply adore Patrick Ness’ writing style so I definitely want to read More Than This, however I’m not in any great rush? Does that make sense? I do plan on reading it eventually I just want to read so many other novels first.

    Anyway great review and I’m glad you enjoyed the book!

  2. Agreed, I love the way Seth was just.. gay. It was part of him and I loved how subtle it was used. I also loved Seth <3 He really did something to me and the way Ness wrote the flashbacks was perfect. The ending wasn't my thing and this book.. I think everyone has to read it to see the strangeness/weirdness/mindfuckery.

  3. Oooo, I’m now even more excited to read this one! I love books that mess with my brain but I also want everything to be explained so I’m eager to see how this one turns out for me. Great review! 🙂

  4. WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE yes mindfuckery is probably the only word that describes this book PERFECTLY.

    Tbh, The Knife of Never Letting Go is very different from this but also similar, in a way. Cryptic, I know. If you loved Thomasz, there’s a character in TKoNLG that you will love (I know I did).

    Anyhoo, this was not about Knife. I must say I’m impressed with how you were actually able to write a review for this book haha. Awesome review!

    • Haha, I think the whole book club just can’t think anything but mindfuckery. It was funny, reading the reviews that have been written from us – all are like I DON’T KNOW I JUST I CAN’T MINDFUCK.

      *sigh* yes yes. TKoNLG will happen. Patience, child.

  5. I attended an event at Waterstone’s with Patrick Ness, and asked about Seth being a gay protagonist in the Q&A session, and Patrick was like, “WHOA, WHOA, SPOILERS, OKAY?” Haha! I didn’t think it was much of a spoiler at all!

    But yes, mindfuckery. That’s about the only way to describe this without ruining the book for everyone, because I really think this is one of those books you have to experience and go in blind to. Glad you liked it too!

    • Haha, oh, so he himself calls it a spoiler? Ahhh, I dunno what to do about that. I was so pleasantly surprised by it, so I can see that he would hope all readers went into it that way. Knowing in advance can ruin the effect a bit. But it’s not a major plot point (and kudos for that) so reviewers don’t feel the need to hide it.

  6. My main reaction when I think back on this book is “Man, that book was weird as f*&^”

    (I don’t know why I censored that, but it just felt right somehow.)

    Wow, looked at the comment above and I didn’t see that as a spoiler either. That was my favorite part, I think. Maybe it’s just to not scare away people who are like against that? I don’t know.

    This book was really slow and then it did get really fast-paced, it’s true. Man, I still have no idea what to make of this.

    • Hahaha, truth to that. I’m with you. I don’t even know how I wrote a review about it. Haha.

      I think that’s probably it. Some people get all hesitant when there’s LGBT in books. I dunno. Not me. Though I won’t really chase LGBT books either or go out of my way to read them, it’s a nice bonus here. I think it’s also, if he did mention it, then that would be what the book would be known for. It would be known for having a LGBT MC and people would pick it up for that aspect or the romance. And that’s so not what the book is really about. I dunno. I guess I kind of get it? But *shrug* I wouldn’t care either way, and I don’t think it’s a spoiler.