Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

Posted September 11, 2013 by Stormy in Books / 7 Comments

More Than This

by Patrick Ness

More Than This

Expected Publishing Date: September 10, 2013
Length: 480 pages
Publisher: Candlewick Press

Obtained Via: I received a copy on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Format Read In: E-ARC
View from the Traffic Light:



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 neighborhood 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. . .


Opening Line: Here is the boy, drowning.

An opening line that will haunt me for a while. There is something about this line, and the story it comes to represent. It could have been so many things, “I am drowning,” or even, “The boy is drowning”, but the Here is the boy, drowning came to represent this book for me. It’s a little more detached, a little more like a piece of a story being served up directly to the reader. . . Here is the boy. Here.

And yet. . . Not here. This book is a case study in Messing With Your Mind 101. At the end, can I even really tell you what happened? Yes and no. I remember the story, but I’m not sure I can put in words the significance of it. More Than This is a very different book. When it comes to Patrick Ness, I expect some weirdness, but I think this surpassed my expectations for weird. It’s the type of book where I can’t talk about anything that happens without giving it all away, so I’m just focusing more on my final impression in this review and how absolutely jaw-dropping and mind-twisting this book was on so many occasions.

The difference between reality and non-reality(and what constitutes reality) is a HUGE theme in this book, the driving force, and as such, there’s a lot of questioning of “Is this real?” Both Seth, the main character, and I asked that question a LOT. And, as expected, not everything gets wrapped up in the end. The ending leaves a lot of questions unanswered, but also leaves a little bit of clarity, just enough to keep me up for an extra hour after I finished this book thinking about it’s implications.

Ness’ characters feel like real people, which is a little disconcerting when you’re not really sure what’s real and what’s not. I enjoyed the exploration of Seth’s backstory–well, enjoyed is a bit of a strong word, seeing as it’s rather depressing–but I was engrossed in the story from the minute he died at the beginning. Why was he drowning? What drove all the characters to the point where they’re in this . . . afterlife thing? There’s a river of depression that runs through this book(though really, I don’t expect anything else from Ness) but a whole lot of the more than this mentioned in the title.

If you’re reading this review and now more confused about this book than ever, well, good. Because that’s basically what reading this book amounts to. And don’t get me wrong, it was a trip of confusion that I really loved and totally made me think, but this isn’t a light read by any means. It’s the type of book where you’re constantly jumping from your impression from chapter to chapter. At the beginning, it looks like an after-life story. Then for a few chapters it’s survival. Then science fiction. Then more survival. Then. . . you don’t know what anymore.

Everyone has a story. But what does it mean? By the end of the book, the answers to those big questions still seemed far away, but in a way that made you totally not even care that you didn’t KNOW. Except maybe I did care, because it kept me up for a few hours afterwards.

Final Impression: The book that messes with your mind SO, SO much. I really enjoyed The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy the rest of the Chaos Walking trilogy once my emotions recover from the first book enough to continue, but this book is(dare I say it?) Better. By a long shot. I can’t exactly call it a satisfying read, but just know it’s one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read, I’m still slightly confused, and yet I’ve come to LIKE being slightly confused. I recommend this book, but I hope you’re comfortable with ambiguity before you pick it up. 4/5 cupcakes.


yellowaddit3 whatothershavesaid

4 out of 5 stars from The Girl and Her Books


4 Stars

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7 responses to “Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

  1. Bookish Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness | A Bookish Heart

    […] out of 5 stars] Mel @ The Daily Prophecy [4 out of 5 stars] Stormy @ Book. Blog. Bake. [5 out of 5 stars] Kelly @ Diva […]

  2. Oh, this sounds so very interesting! I haven’t read any Ness yet (I plan on it eventually). I do love books that make the readers do a lot of work, both with processing what is actually written, and then also processing everything that’s left unsaid by the text and still important. The only time I don’t like reading books like this is if I already don’t care for any of the characters. I think I’ll have to be in a certain frame of mind when I read this book, but it definitely does sound like something worth reading.

    • stormydawnc

      Definitely a lot of work going on for the reader’s part of this book, and I think the characters were pretty sympathetic. As far as Patrick Ness goes, I’m not sure this is the one I’d advise first, but every book of his that I’ve read is very good! A Monster Calls is my favorite though.

  3. Laura@ The Girl and Her Books

    Thanks for including my review! I felt the same about it being confusing, but Ness definitely used that as a plot device.

    • stormydawnc

      Yeah, I ended up liking the book a lot, but so often I was just. . . weirded out. But yet I liked it. I mean, I feel like strange & Patrick Ness sort of go together, but this was definitely the strangest that I’ve read.

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