More Than This by Patrick Ness

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More Than This has one of the most astonishing opening prologues I have ever read! A bold statement you may say, but it really bowled me over. In just a few pages Patrick Ness sets up the whole novel, introducing the reader to the main character as he is fighting for his life – a boy is drowning. Within those pages, although I knew nothing of the boy, not even his name, I felt connected with him and felt his struggle. The way in which the boy’s death is described (for indeed he does die) was intensely powerful and sad, it also leads the reader to think “Well, what’s next?”

Then the boy wakes up…

The novel then continues from this point, the boy wakes up in world that is known to him but completely deserted.

More Than This is a book of distinct parts; I am sad to say, that for me, not all parts of the book are as good as the first act. This is most likely because the first part of the book is as good as anything I’ve ever read. The first part of the book follows the boy in this new desolate world as he is looking for answers to where he is and why. This is interspersed with vivid flashbacks to key moments from the boy’s life prior to his death when he sleeps. The first part of the book builds and builds as the reader discovers more about what events led to the boy’s eventual drowning. Even though this part of the book is by far the best part, it is still worthwhile reading on.

I think that part of the reason that I felt that the second half of the book wasn’t quite as good was that as you go through the book some of the intrigue is lost. At the beginning there are so many unanswered questions, and the imagery painted within the words is astounding; some of this is lost as the novel plays out. Obviously I was expecting to have questions answered, but I was hoping that the world that was being created by the author would become more enriched. The second half of the story does have some very interesting ideas, and the more I think about the book, the more questions I have. However, part of why I felt slightly disappointed with the second half was because the main plot thread, for me, was not original enough. I felt I had already read/seen this key idea before. I won’t say where, and one place is actually quite obscure, as it may spoil the plot for other readers.

More Than This doesn’t just look at death, throughout the novel other very serious themes are explored. Ness does not shy away from a difficult topic and I was so pleased to read about such important issues in what is branded as a Young Adult novel. The book deals with these issues more frankly and with a greater conviction than most other novels.

Despite my (very) limited reservations, there were sparks of ingenuity throughout the whole novel. Certain paragraphs I read more than once as they were so striking – Ness writes with a clarity that is very rare. The end of the novel does seem to come a bit too quickly, as though rushed towards, but this is so often the case with novels that boast such grand ideas. More Than This could quite easily have been 50 pages longer and maybe more satisfying for it.

Overall I am very glad that I have read this book and not only would I recommend it to others but I will also look out for his other novels to read in the future.

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