Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

Pros: interesting philosophy, some fun characters, heart-wrenching situations

Cons: somewhat open ended story

For Parents: some sexual content, gay content (nothing graphic), suicide, some violence, off screen bullying and abuse

When Seth Wearing drowns in the ocean he expects that to be the end.  So he's shocked when he wakes up outside the house in England where he lived as a child.  The house his family moved from quickly after the incident.   The incident that changed his younger brother.  

His new world is abandoned, overgrown with plants and empty of human life.  And Seth has no idea what's going on.  But he suspects this is Hell.

This is an interesting story that will keep you on your toes.  While I did see a few of the plot twists coming, others were complete surprises.  It's a tough novel to discuss without potentially spoiling some of the plot twists, but I'll try.

I love Seth as a character.  He's constantly doubting the new world he finds himself in, while at the same time reliving in dreams the best and worst times of his life.  I also love Thomasz, with his broken english and intelligent plans.  He really doesn't get the credit he deserves from the other characters.  Regine is also great as a feisty overweight black teen who understands more about Seth than Seth's willing to tell.  Seth's best friends are interesting too, and I was blown away when a particular relationship came to light.  It put the use of the friendly insult 'homo' they use in a different, and more positive, light.

Some of the characters have truly gut-wrenching moments to share.  There is some abuse and bullying mentioned, as well as other violence.  But as with the sexual content, there's nothing graphic.

It takes a while to discover what's really going on, and at times Seth's reticence to explain his past and inability to explain what he discovers about his present is frustrating as you want to know what he's learned/experienced.  The ending was fairly open to interpretation, which makes the book thought-provoking, though I'd have liked another chapter delivering more of a sense of closure.

This is a book about growing up.  About learning that everyone else is the centre of their universe just as you are the centre of yours.  While it's easy to take everything others do personally, not every action is meant as a reaction to you or what you've done.  Despite having some valuable life lessons this isn't a preachy novel and Seth doesn't come by these realizations easily.  But they are good, hopeful, lessons for teens.  And I hope a lot of teens - and adults - pick up this book.

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