At the beginning there is just a boy drowning. He tries to fight against the water, the current and the waves, in those last moments he really does fight. But the water is harder and, eventually, it wins.
The boy dies.
That should be the end but somehow it isn’t.
There is more.
The boy wakes up half naked and exhausted–hungry and thirsty in a neighborhood that is at once familiar and other. Everything is abandoned. The boy is alone. Except is any of that really true? The boy can’t be sure when even being dead seems uncertain now. Exploring this new landscape the boy will delve into his past as well as his arduous present in order to discover what really lies ahead of him in More Than This (2013) by Patrick Ness.
Other reviewers have, fairly, suggested that this book is best enjoyed when you go into without expectations or too much knowledge of what it’s about. That is partly true as the story has quite a few shocking twists.
On the other hand, after part one More Than This almost become an entirely different book. Which is okay because for the entire first part (roughly 150 pages) we are only in the boy’s head. He is alone. He is surviving. And, honestly, that gets less interesting over time.
Ness is a critically acclaimed author with lots of shiny, well-deserved awards to his name already. The writing in More Than This is smooth and effortless. Unfortunately the writing and the plot were not enough to actually make this book particularly gripping or exciting. Flashbacks break into the present story with a jarring frequency. Although the boy is hungry and feels threatened, there never seemed to be a real sense of urgency.
The premise of More Than This is promising (even just the superficial one that gets turned upside and sideways as the book progresses) and will find an eager audience among readers who enjoy books that toe the line between life and death and ponder what might come after. The ultimate meaning behind the book’s title is also a lovely element to the story. It just, sadly, wasn’t enough to make this a standout read for me.
Possible Pairings: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti, The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He, Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, Between by Jessica Warman, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey