Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Book Review; More Than This by Patrick Ness

Image courtesy of walker.co.uk

Shamefully I only discovered Patrick Ness' books earlier this year when I read - and loved The Crane Wife, which I reviewed here. Since then I've read his superlative YA "Chaos Walking" trilogy and consider him to be one of the most exciting writers working today. It's no understatement then to say I was desperately looking forward to reading More Than This, particularly after the early reviews started to be published. The moment the book arrived - and what a beauty it is, with a cover that demanded to be stroked - I dived straight in.
In More Than This, Ness has returned to writing YA fiction but to believe that this book is just for young adults would be a huge mistake. Ness says he wrote the book because most teenagers will at some point think "there must be more than this" but we were all that teen once and this is a book that I believe has the intelligence, wit and humanity to speak to us all.
The story starts with the main protagonist, Seth, dying ("Here is the boy, drowning" is such a great first line.) and make no mistake Seth definitely dies here. Then he wakes up, but finds himself completely alone, in a desolate world he soon realises is the English town he lived in as a young boy. To try to describe what happens from then would be to do the book, and you, as I hope a soon to be reader of More Than This, a serious disservice, it's a book you need to read, not read about. It will pull you in, keep you reading until the wee small hours then keep you awake as you consider what you've read. It's a story of exquisite beauty and explores family, friends and love, trust, existence and what life is. It's heartbreakingly dark and disturbing yet still an uplifting, life affirming read. As a parent I am glad this book is on the bookshelf for my children to discover, I don't agree with prescribing books for children but it is a book I think all teenagers should know about. We've almost certainly all felt alone despite being in a family, misunderstood and not appreciated, for anybody who has ever felt like they don't fit in, More Than This is a book that understands. I wish I had Patrick Ness writing for me when I was a teen but even at the age of forty I couldn't fail to be touched by this wonderful book.

More Than This is published in the UK by Walker Books.

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