by Patrick Ness
Published by Candlewick Press
on September 10, 2013
Source: I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. Please see my full FTC disclosure on right sidebar.
Connect with the author: YouTube Q&A* | website.
Summary from Goodreads: 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. . .My take: More Than This has a lot of elements that I dread in a book: a character with memory loss, a (possible) afterlife setting, and a WTF-is-going-on-here plot. But I think that More Than This is proof that in reading, as in life, you must keep an open mind. I loved this book.
Like Rose Under Fire, which I'm also reviewing today, More Than This is a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching book about the power of small acts of bravery and human connection in the face of evil.
Part of my enjoyment of this book was trying to figure everything out, so I will keep my review spoiler-free. But, as the blurb indicates, More Than This begins with the death of the main character, Seth. Then …. Seth is conscious again. He's not sure where he is, except that he thinks that he's back in the English town where his family used to live. The town his family moved away from after a terrible loss. He's also completely alone. Like a post-apocalyptic survivor, Seth roams around his new environment, looking for answers. And so is the reader. Is he alive again? In some kind of afterlife? Hallucinating?
More than This masterfully weaves together three different timelines. First, there's Seth's lonely existence in this afterlife/new life/whereever-the-heck-this-is. Then, bit by bit, we learn about Seth's life immediately prior to his death. Also, bit by bit, we learn about the event that prompted Seth's family to move from England to America, and the part that Seth played in that.
"I don't like this." "Don't like what?" "Not knowing stuff." She gives him a look. "We just found out there's new stuff not to know."If you're a regular reader of my blog, you might remember that I'm not fond of not knowing stuff. Of being confused when I read. Therefore, I'm deeply suspicious of amnesia plots and all sorts of attempts to mess with my mind. I was loving every minute of it here. Patrick Ness does a masterful job of doling out crumbs of information, connecting dots, raising questions… amazing!
I really don't want to say too much about the plot, because the best part of this book is watching all the pieces fall into place. But I do think that More Than This has something for just about every reader. Do you love eerie, post-apocalyptic-like landscapes? Check. Are you into scary, faceless villains and nail-biting suspense? Check. Are you more of a contemporary fan, someone who needs to have a deep emotional connection to a book's characters? Check. Are you the kind of reader who likes books that shock and surprise you? Check. The kind of books that make you really think? Check. Seriously, how is this possible?
"But then I knew you were there. And I knew.. I guess I just knew that someone remembered who I was..."I read More Than This right before Rose Under Fire and maybe that's why I saw some parallels between the two. Both books celebrate the strength and resiliency of the human spirit and our wish that our lives and experiences matter, in large ways or small.
*Thanks to Stella on Goodreads for mentioning this Q & A with the author in her review. I highly recommend it!