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?

Disclaimer: this is a very spoilery review.

Any expectations you may have had for this book? Throw them out the window. This got weird.

Last year I read A Monster Calls which was my very first Patrick Ness novel and considering that it made my top five reads of 2017, I obviously loved it.

I was then lucky enough to win a copy of Ness’ newest book, Release, in a giveaway a few months ago. I adored that one too, though it had a strange element that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. This should have been a clue. I have finally come to realise that Ness’ writing is unpredictable on every level. In some ways, I don’t love it so much but in other ways, I love it.

The first thing I need to get off my chest about More Than This is the writing. Oh my, the writing. Ness is so incredibly descriptive; the pictures he paints in your head and the emotions he makes you feel are undeniable. His characters and their stories become so real and so relatable it honestly makes me ache. This book almost made me cry a few times. Almost.

My favourite thing about More Than This, was how it kept me on the edge of my seat from the very first page. Have you ever been so anxious to see what’s going to happen in a story that you physically cannot stop your eyes from flicking to the end of the page? This book did that to me. It was mysterious and exciting and the element of danger lurking around every corner had my heart all aflutter. However, this book was borderline sci-fi (or maybe not even borderline?). Not that that’s a bad thing, it was just way out of my comfort zone and far from what I had expected from this author.

The novel kicks off with the death of the main character, Seth, who then somehow wakes up again in his old house in England which he hasn’t seen since he was about 9 years old. He finds himself completely naked, save for the bandages he’s wrapped in, covered in scratches and punctures and solidly convinced that he’s in Hell. With not one other soul around, Seth desperately tries to figure out this “new” world all on his own.

This was manageable weird. Intriguing weird even, I really loved the first part of this book. But it got weirder. From about halfway through onwards I had a massive question mark plastered across my forehead because just – what the hell? It was so strange and confusing and I’m almost 100% sure that there were a lot of hidden or deeper meanings in this novel that I was just not finding. From the mysterious villain to the whole concept of the world they were living in, everything about this novel was obscure.

It turned out in the end that Seth had not, in fact, died, but rather disconnected from the online world that he – and everyone else – was living in. In More Than This, the state of the real world (war, politics, the environment), had gotten so bad that it had become uninhabitable and humans had escaped to live in some form of virtual reality; their human bodies kept alive in big metal cases with tubes and nonsense like that, all managed and maintained by a creepy character known as “the Driver”.

As strange and unfamiliar as this all was to me, however, Ness pulled it off. You can probably tell I’m not into strange plots and unrealistic concepts – but I loved this book. It was brilliantly written, and the plot is so different and interesting I couldn’t stop the addiction from taking over, despite my utter confusion.

My 3,8-star review on Goodreads may seem a bit harsh but as much as I enjoyed this book, it wasn’t perfect. The inconclusive ending left me feeling disgruntled and slightly empty. Regardless though, I am making it a mission to read a lot more Ness in the near future, because no matter what he writes, I somehow always end up blown away.

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  1. A pity about the ending, but the writing and plot sound amazing! I love it when a book grips me and doesn’t let go 🙂

    Excellent review!

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