by Patrick Ness
Usually there'd be a bit more fanfare from me surrounding Patrick Ness' newest book, but it's been a while and I'm just dusting off this blog.
I finished this book a few weeks ago, and I typed out this review on my phone... yes, on my phone, and then I posted it onto Goodreads. And now it's on my blog. Such a delay obviously indicates my laziness, I think.
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...
I'm currently sitting in bed having finally turned that last page I didn't want to turn.
Firstly, no spoilers. And if you haven't read the book, I suggest you to not read anything about it and go into it blind-- it's best that way.
So... More Than This. It's good. It's not perfect, there's a few bumps, and I think it warrants a second reading because I need a bit more time to make sense of it. I'll admit that I sometimes felt like I was missing a piece, like there was this punch line I wasn't getting. And it's weird to say that because I wasn't reading this book inattentively, I just think my brain is still catching up with the questions posed by the book.
This book has such a fantastic premise, it chugs along full of mystery and suspense, and it's one of this books where you keep reading even though you're 150 pages in and haven't really encountered a single other character. But you KNOW there's something stirring below the surface, and you KNOW as things start bubbling up, it's going to be worth it. And it definitely is.
The secondary characters are beautifully drawn, diverse, and compelling. They were crafted incredibly well and more than once tugged at my heart strings. Seth was fascinating in his own way, he has this past that I was desperate to find out more, and as Ness teased his fate, I could feel my skin tingling. As his backstory unfolded...damn.
There's a lot of questions raised about life and existence, which was one aspect I really loved. The plot was twisty for sure, and it makes you question a lot of what you know.
But the book isn't perfect. I had some issues with the pacing and The Driver (who I think deserves some philosophical thought or whatever, because I want to believe he's more than a faceless thing but I can't quite grasp the analogy yet...I'm not very smart). The writing though, is top-notch, I wouldn't expect anything less. It felt like a bit of the immediacy seeped through from the Chaos Walking trilogy, but it's nevertheless powerful.
I had this thought though, as I was reading. I kept thinking "this is a book that could save someone", it's subtle but it's hopeful, it doesn't shy away from terrible things, but it also presents life as more than what we make of it, more than what we are blinded by in the present. I'm not sure if I'm having a crazy thought, did those of you who read it think the same thing? It's thought-provoking and satisfying, unique, mysterious, and has an ending leaving me wanting just a little bit more.
Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: I dunno, all of you? ;)
Acknowledgements: none (tsk tsk)
author twitter / website