More than This Review by Lauren Redmond
Title- More than This
Author- Patrick Ness
Publisher- Walker Books
Date of this Publication- 2014
Genre- YA Sci-fi
My Rating- 4/5 stars
More than this is a sci-fi YA novel by multi award winning author Patrick Ness. Ness has penned other YA thrillers such as ‘When a Monster Calls’ and the ‘Chaos Walking’ trilogy. Published in 2014, ‘More than This’ is a sci-fi YA novel holding similar parallels to that of the Matrix trilogy in which the concepts of alternative realities the rest of the human race have not yet woken up to are explored.
Seth is an English teen living in Washington after a family tragedy that changed his life forever. He drowns in the ocean after a suicide and awakes in his old home in a very ordinary English town. Everything at first appears ordinary except for the fact a mysterious black coffin he presumes is his stands alone in his ancient bedroom. The world is a desolate uninhabited mirror of his former home town. Seth first believes he is alone in this hell following his suicide but then discovers two other inhabitants Tomasz and Regine, also trapped in this apocalyptic world alongside him. A mysterious Driver hunts them. This black helmeted vaguely robotic humanoid entity hunts them mercilessly as the three friends try to survive in this dead and empty world. Waking up in the strange ruined world seems to be linked to a blow to one particular part of the skull after which each character awakes out of their pod-like coffins.
This book questions everything about life and death without really truly answering them. Every question the reader may have in regards to this story, the book throws five more at them. It only has 3 characters in the book all of which are very diverse and likeable. Seth, the gay, guilt wracked teenager, Tomasz the Polish tween and Regine the feisty, curvy English girl are all equally funny, likeable and entertaining characters in their own right and each have very tragic but compelling back-stories. There are no secondary characters in this story thus mirror the sparseness of their setting, yet the characters along with their personalities and tragic demises all make the story alive and believable. The inclusion of Seth’s sexuality is something I found very different and honest and handled exceptionally well which is something still sadly lacking in today’s YA genre.
‘More than This’ is such a well crafted novel I was forced to question things ages after I’d read it. The book allowed me to consider the fact of the world we live in being really only a matrix-like simulation and all of what we knew really was only a simulated facade masking the real world from us. The novel is so convincing it made me question what should happen if this were to all really happen us, or indeed if it was happening us now.
Ness has given us a much different treatment of another YA novel. It is unlike anything that has gone before it. This book stands out from the rest in delivering a catastrophic existential question to the reader that is something ultimately different and smarter. It has a mixture of everything, sadness and tragedy, comedy and action and many philosophical musings on life, death, love and the human condition. It has no climax only an ending that is decidedly sparse and leaves the reader with yet further unanswered questions. The lack of climax suits the nature of the book- leaving the reader to question and wonder long after the cliff-hanger is over. Ness’s ability to make the point of the story about nothing, achieve nothing and answer nothing is in turn frustratingly clever but simplistic. Ness has committed to delivering something completely different that breaks the mould of YA novels.
‘More than This’ is suitable for adult and YA readers alike but preferably those of the older more mature age who enjoy action, sci-fi and the matrix but also those who like books that do not need a point to express their existentialism and philosophy to engage readers with.