Review – More Than This by Patrick Ness

By | September 23, 2013

Like many others, I discovered Patrick Ness’ writing through the Chaos Walking trilogy – if you haven’t read it, you have an unacceptable gap in your reading experience and I really think you should remedy that forthwith. Starting with The Knife of Never Letting Go the series has won just about every major children’s fiction award in the UK, and the third book, Monsters of Men won the Carnegie Medal in 2011. As an adult reader, I was totally blown away by the whole series – incredibly inventive, handling a whole range of themes with a really exciting and fast-paced story. I haven’t caught up on the author’s intervening books – A Monster Calls and The Crane Wife – although I have them all waiting on my Kindle. But there’s been a real buzz about this latest book that made me want to read it immediately – featured on the Radio 2 Bookclub with Simon Mayo, who described it as his “favourite this year and IMHO, a masterpiece”. On a Sunday, there’s always a great temptation to sit down with a book once the chores are done – I did that today, read the book from cover to cover, because there was no way I was going to put this book down without finishing it.

The basic story is no secret and I’ll simply repeat the blurb:

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 neighbourhood 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. . .

The absolute joy about this book is in reading it. I’m not even going to try and tell you much more. I think it’s enough to say that the writing is masterful, the journey you take with Seth absolutely all consuming and totally engrossing, the story’s inventiveness quite mind blowing, the themes wholly adult and challenging, and – should you ever doubt the quality of writing out there for young adult readers – one of the best books I’ve read all year. Please read it – I just hope you’ll love every moment of it as much as I did. Everyone will be talking about this one, and there will be another bagful of awards. And don’t forget to then go back and read the Chaos Walking trilogy too – and Patrick Ness’ other books, that I’ve left languishing for far too long.

Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for Radio 4 and the Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Ness won the annual Carnegie Medal both in 2011 and in 2012, for Monsters of Men and A Monster Calls, recognising each as the best new book for children or young adults published in the UK. He is one of seven writers to win two Medals (no one has yet won three). Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London.

More Than This was published on 5th September 2013 by Walker Books and is available in all formats. Simon Mayo’s interview with the author can be found here, where you can also read a free extract. Patrick Ness has an excellent website, and can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter.