Review: More Than This

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: More Than ThisMore Than This by Patrick Ness
Published by Candlewick on September 10, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Pages: 480
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars

From two-time Carnegie Medal winner Patrick Ness comes an enthralling and provocative new novel chronicling the life β€” or perhaps afterlife β€” 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. . . .

First Sentence: "The first moment's after the boy's death pass for him in a confused and weighty blur.

First Sentence: “The first moment’s after the boy’s death pass for him in a confused and weighty blur.”

Review:

After finally reading Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go a month or so ago, I was very curious to try his forthcoming novel. What I’m sure of more than ever now is that Ness is a massive talent. I am also convinced that his books will not work for everyone, because they are daring and strange and twisty and complex. More Than This is a cinematic, philosophical confusing novel, but one I ultimately found fascinating.

I find myself rather at a loss on how to review this book, given that practically anything would be a spoiler, since this is a book that opens up, revealing new layers. For the first hundred or so pages, all you know is what’s revealed in the blurb, and talking about anything past that in any detailed way would be to reveal spoilers best left in the dark. Thus, this will probably be short and vague, but bear with me.

The storytelling of More Than This has a rather unique feel to it. Though told in what might seem like a fairly ordinary third person limited narrative, there’s something cinematic about More Than This. The novel unfolds like a movie before the reader’s eyes, a twisty movie like Memento or Inception that people need to watch several times over to have any sort of solid understanding of what’s happening. Even more fascinating is that Seth seems to have a postmodern awareness of his role in the narrative, often calling situations before they even happened, as though he is the creator of his own story.

Seth dies in the prologue, drowns in icy waters. But then he awakens in his childhood home in England, the one his family moved away from after his brother was kidnapped by an escaped prisoner from the neighboring prison. He’s thirsty, hungry, and weak. And dead? Seemingly alone, he gathers what food is unexpired and searches out clothing that fits to replace the bandages that covered his body. Whenever he rests, Seth dreams of his life, of his parents who never forgave him for what happened to his brother, of his friends who abandoned him, and his boyfriend who he maybe loved.

Of course, there’s so much more to More Than This, rather appropriate no? Only I can’t tell you about it. I could compare it to a particular film, but that would be a spoiler like whoa. Keeping things incredibly simple, I had some questions about the worldbuilding, serious ones, but I loved the message of the story, one of looking at the beauty in life and finding your more. I’m also not convinced it really needed to be quite so long.

For such a massive book, this review feels rather ineffectual book, but the book itself serves as a sort of metaphor for life and how we take it for granted. It’s a journey to be undertaken by the reader.

Favorite Quote:

“‘I wanted so badly for there to be more. I ached for there to be more than my crappy little life.’ He shakes his head. ‘And there was more. I just couldn’t see it.'”

8 responses to “Review: More Than This”

  1. I have the The Knife book and it’s been in my tbr pile forever! This sounds interesting and I love your favorite quote from it.

  2. I just loved this book. Patrick Ness really does have a talent, I agree. And I also agree that it might not work for everyone but I thought it was brilliant. πŸ™‚

  3. Bonnie R says:

    I felt the same about the length. There was a ton of stuff in the middle that ended up being ultimately irrelevant but… it still worked out. Much more philosophical and thought provoking than I anticipated though. Great review, glad you liked it!

  4. The only book I’ve read by Ness was A Monster Calls, which wasn’t entirely his own creation. But from the writing in that novel, I can tell I want to read more. The Knife of Never Letting Go is on the top of the list.

    I’ve wanted to read More Than This since I saw its cover reveal (probably here on Cover Snark.) I’ve been kind of avoiding its blurb because I just have the feeling I’m better off knowing as little as possible going on.

    I’m sorry this wasn’t completely stellar for you, but I’m glad you enjoyed it πŸ™‚

  5. This sounds more confusing than anything, but it does have a pretty cool premise, and the writing style! I don’t think I’ve heard of a writing style as unique as how you described it, so that really intrigues me. Also, I’m curious to know what happens to Seth, but based on your review, I’m not as keen on reading the book anymore. Great review, Christina!

  6. Jessie says:

    This is such a weird book, isn’t it? I tried to warn you without spoiling anything, but you’re right — it’s so hard to talk about this without revealing too much. All in all, I am glad you enjoyed it at least somewhat.

    The Memento comparison is spot on. I didn’t even think about that, but I can really see it now that it’s been pointed out to me. I’m clever like that.

    And the quote you pulled was also my favorite.

    I really think that Ness’s brain must be a weird place indeed, if this and Chaos Walking is any kind of indication. For such a hard book to review, I think you did marvelously!

  7. Amy says:

    This sounds odd, but intriguing. I think I would like it.

  8. Nara says:

    haha the review was indeed rather vague! But it’s definitely increased my intrigue about this book. Although your review isn’t completely favourable, I did love the Chaos Walking trilogy, and will probably end up reading this book at some point πŸ™‚

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