After finishing A Song of Ice and Fire, this was a step in a very different direction – with a totally different audience, style of story, and narrative voice. But I rarely have room for anything but praise when it comes to Patrick Ness, and this book was no exception. (Seriously, look him up. Even if not for the books, he is a refreshingly welcome voice on Twitter).
More Than This is about a boy called Seth who, in the first few pages, drowns. He dies. Then he wakes up. Where is he? What does this mean? Why has he woken up? Why has he woken up here? Questions upon questions, and Seth is alone to discover if there is perhaps more to this life than he ever believed.
**SPOILER FREE POST**
Well here’s where I say that Patrick Ness has done it again: an original, arresting, heartbreaking, uplifting tale, that will stay with me for a long time.
Hell, and he’s already done it twice with his Chaos Walking trilogy, and the beautiful A Monster Calls (which is set to be a box office hit this December, directed by J.A. Bayona, and starring Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, and newcomer Lewis McDougall … here’s the trailer to get you started).
Patrick Ness has got something about him. He has an ability to connect with the YA community like few others. I’ve never seen an author capture so perfectly what it is to be a teenager. He understands. I remember hearing him say once that he thought the greatest, most compelling feeling of adolescence was the feeling that there had to be more, and he thought it important enough to write a novel about it. Boy, am I glad he did. More Than This is astounding.
There’s just enough information given to keep the reader baited, but enough is held back to allow the story to unfold almost on its own terms. Protagonist Seth drives everything forward with a strength that is almost tangible, and yet he has a certain vulnerability. He’s one of those characters you can almost see standing in front of you.
One of the things I love most about this book is that it does not shy away from asking big questions of a YA audience, and I think that’s something Patrick Ness does incredibly well. He introduces philosophical, emotional, life-changing ideas to his readers. Where some might soften these musings with fluffy happiness and rainbows, to accommodate for young readers, Ness respects his readership. He knows them well enough to be able to communicate these thoughts without apology, and in doing so, he creates something that can go beyond imagination, punching through to real life.
More Than This is the essence of its own story – when a book can delve this deep, does it become more than just another novel on the shelf?