Thursday, 6 March 2014

Review - More Than This by Patrick Ness

A book. It's a world all on its own, too. A world made of words, where you live for a while.” - Patrick Ness, More Than This.

I've been thinking about writing book reviews on my blog for a little while now. I love reading and discussing what I've read also helps me to understand things and see things I usually wouldn't have thought about. In addition, I know that loads of my readers are always keen to find new books so hopefully a review every now and again will aid some literary discoveries! It will also put that English Degree I have to good use...

Bit of a Patrick Ness Fangirl

I'm going to start with a book I finished yesterday, More Than This by Patrick Ness. Now many of you probably haven't heard of Patrick Ness... which is a crying shame. Among young adult authors he is highly regarded, but somehow hasn't got through into mainstream. I only heard about him while doing a Writing for Children unit at uni. We read his d├ębut book for children, The Knife of Never Letting Go. From the start I was hooked. His stories are so imaginative but anchored by real problems that no teen (or adult) would be alien to. He's not afraid to drop in an expletive here and there and is the master at evoking raw emotion in even the hardest of readers. Patrick Ness is one of the few authors to have won every major prize for children's fiction, including having won the Carnegie Medal twice. This guy is incredible and everyone should read all of his books.

More Than This Hardback Cover

But I digress, this post is about his most recent book, More Than This, released in September 2013. It is about an American Boy, Seth, who drowns and wakes up in his childhood hometown in England. He finds his house exactly as it was before they left it and moved to America. Through a series of dreams he begins to remember who he was and starts to work out what he is doing back in England...

The novel incorporates a bit of philosophy (think Plato's Cave Analogy or The Matrix) with edge-of-your-seat action and some painful real life problems.

I think what I love most about this book is that while it is about a boy who is gay, the character is so deep and well put together that being gay isn't his defining feature. It is the same with his two friends, Regine, who isn't defined as being fat and Tomasz, who isn't defined as Polish. Ness deals with these factors well, in a sophisticated manner, addressing the topics and responding to them. So much young adult fiction *cough* Jacqueline Wilson *cough* dwells on one feature of a character that the whole book becomes about it. This isn't a book about coming out. This is a book that features a character that happens to be gay. It's excellent.

As ever, Ness has written a book that keeps you hooked the whole way through. It refuses to let you put it down for a second. I read the book in two days, with 16 hours of work in between. One night I was sat on my bed, freezing, half-dressed, for 45 minutes, as the book did not allow me a moment to put my pyjama top on. I read this book on the bus, on my lunch break, as soon as I got home from work until silly o'clock in the morning, and the same the next day because I needed to read on. I haven't been so gripped to a book in a long, long time.

The overarching theme is the book is that there is always 'more than this', more than what you know and more to life that the problems of the moment. It also questions whether it is even good to know more than what you already do. It's a great philosophy and really good for any person experiencing difficult times, or looking for inspiration.

“I wanted so badly for there to be more. I ached for there to be more than my crappy little life.' He shakes his head. 'And there was more. I just couldn't see it.” - Patrick Ness, More Than This.

So yeah, read this book. It's a great choice for teens that are capable of moving on to adult books but are yet confident to make that leap. And don't be put off because it's a young adult novel, it's basically a very good book that is suitable for teens. And while you're at it, pick up The Chaos Walking Trilogy and A Monster Calls. You won't regret it.

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