Published by Candlewick Press on September 10th, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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. . . .
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?