Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness
I love More Than This by Patrick Ness. I will buy this book, and make a point of hunting for Ness’s other work, at the first chance I get.
Seth Wearing wakes up after drowning in the ocean. Instead of the home he has spent his teenage years in, he wakes up near his childhood home. How? What is going on? These questions, and more, plague Seth as he struggles to survive the ruined world he has awaken to.
And trust me, the answers are surprising.
First of all, Seth is an amazing character. His presence is so well realized, it is amazing. He just comes off the page, alive.
Don’t get me wrong, some of his story is, honestly, eye roll inducing. But it is a testament to Ness’s mastery of characterization that I didn’t just put the book down and never come back to it.
The supporting characters, unfortunately, don’t come nearly so close to the realization that Seth achieves, but their characters are still very well done. Especially Regine and Tomasz.
Furthermore, kudos are to be given to Ness for creating, perhaps, one of the best representations of a gay teenager I’ve ever read. Ness gets it so right. While Seth’s homosexuality is an important plot point, it does not define him. He’s gay, so what? The handling is just matter of fact.
I did mention that I had an eye roll. And this novel does induce quite a few of them. Again, a testament to the great writing and characterization that I didn’t put the book down.
My biggest issue with the book, and one that is seemingly endemic to young adult literature, is that some of the story is needlessly grimdark. Does Seth’s life have to be that screwed up? And, even though this is a stupid question, why did the family move to Washington and give up NHS? (Unless, spoilers, the NHS doesn’t exist anymore when the story takes place).
Needless to say, the circumstances of Seth’s death are not shocking.
The shock, I think, comes from the genre mashup revelations. The novel is a mix of the hero’s journey, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and The Matrix. While the influences to the two previous works are obvious, More Than This is not derivative. In fact, the direction Ness takes the narrative is very interesting.
Overall, I really love this novel. I want to buy it now.