More Than This by Patrick Ness

A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies.

Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive.

How can this be? And what is this strange deserted place?

As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?

Patrick Ness is one of the most acclaimed authors in young adult fiction and one of my favourites, as well as the creator behind the upcoming BBC Three Doctor Who spinoff Class which looks really promising. It was a no brainer that I wasn’t going to check out More Than This when I spotted it in the library and devoured it fairly quickly, with a lightning fast pace that kept me hooked right the way through with a fairly interesting twist that separates it from the normal young adult genre.

More Than This benefits from a really strong narrative that could fit into multiple genres. There are echoes of I am Legend and The Matrix here but ultimately it’s original enough so finding comparisons is hard, and it benefits from a stylish approach and a strong narrative, as well as a powerful lead character to weave a captivating story. Seth, the main character – is an interesting protagonist who has found himself naked, bruised, thirsty and surprisingly alive after drowning alone in his final moments. We follow Seth as he tries to find out where he is, but we also explore what happened to him and the events that caused him to get here, told in flashback narrative that really works, creating a powerful atmosphere and an interesting family structure thanks to a strong realistic narrative approach.

Patrick Ness manages to stay clear of the normal clichés and tells a captivating story that manages to be a thought provoking one. It’s hard to go into too much detail about the plot as I’ve literally just told you the name of the character plus the blurb, but it’s very promising and works very well as a standalone book but also with a possible open ending that leaves room for the author to return to the book if needed.

The characters here for the most part is a relatively small one and all are diverse and well developed, with Tomasz sure to be a fan favourite. It’s rare that you see books with protagonists as diverse as this in young adult fiction so it was refreshing to see Ness execute this as well as he did here, with realistic dialogue and you get the sense that these teenagers are actually teenagers. Despite the dark mood the book benefits from some elements of black humour and even though there isn’t a real climax you’ll never be bored, and the ending will at the same time manage to leave you satisfied.

This is one of those books that I really should have filed under something that I should have read sooner. It’s really powerful, well written and boasts a strong selection of diverse characters thrust together in unlikely circumstances. Confidently written, More Than This is very hard to put down and further proves that Patrick Ness is one of the best if not the best young adult writers out there right now.

VERDICT: 9/10

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