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? The street seems familiar, but everything is
abandoned, overgrown, covered in dust.
What’s going on? Is it real? Or has he woken up in his own personal hell? Seth begins to search for answers, hoping desperately that there must be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife…
Have you ever thought if there’s life after death? I have. But calm down, I’m not gonna fill this review with existentialist wonderings, and neither am I gonna lie to you and say More Than This brings an answer to that ever-existing dilemma.
What More Than This does, though, is play with the idea – or question – of “is there more to this?”. “This” being anything that can come to your mind, be it life, death, a book or movie, etc.
The means to do that is through Seth’s story, a boy of seventeen who dies drowned in a beach and wakes up in the city he grew up in. Eventually, he finds more people and together they try to find out where they are and why they are not dead even if they’re supposed to be.
This is where our question (the one above) comes to the stage. All of our few characters have stories and secrets of their own. All of them as well had a non-perfect life (who does have a perfect life?) with obstacles and moments that made them tell themselves, for example, when there was misery, that there was more to life than those dreadful times.
Now, I’m making it sound boring with all that philosophical stuff, but let me tell you: It is not. That’s just the general theme of the book. The plot is more than that (did you see what I did?). There’s also a vague mystery about what it seems to them like some kind of afterlife and the thrill of getting to know each character.
I could almost say this book worked for me in all the levels, but that’s not true. There’s the writing to think about. It wasn’t bad, but for me, the narration felt too distant. It doesn’t suffer the telling vs. showing problem. What happens is that the tone is kind of dry, and it doesn’t make you feel connected to the story, even though you may be enjoying it.
Usually, not liking the writing makes me feel indifferent towards the book, but that was not the case here, because in my opinion, the fantastic character development and the great execution of the plot paid for what the writing was lacking.
At first it seemed as if both of those points were going to be weak, but that is because the book goes slow in the first 20%. Don’t worry, though. Slow is not synonym to boring. That first 20% is page-turning because it’s full of later-to-be-answered questions that only lead to more questions whose answers have more to what they seem to be.
All in all, the book was very good, and now that I’ve finally decided to try one of Ness’ books, I’m gonna read more of them. It’s clear Patrick Ness is more than just a simple author.