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on 10 July 2016
I was a little disappointed by this book as it just wasn't as powerful as The Knife of Never Letting Go.

It's another example of a book where I liked the concept more than the execution. The first half of the novel was very strong. After Seth's dramatic "death", the opening chapters where he wanders alone through the ruined town are very tense. Although little happened, there was always the threat that something would and the mystery of whether or not it really was Seth's Hell. The flashes of Seth's life also really drew me in and I found myself completely invested in the tragedy of his past.

However, I started to lose interest in the second part when the novel took a turn towards the dystopian. I never really connected with Regine and Tomasz in the way that I did Seth and his school friends. The science fiction elements felt unoriginal and slapped on, taking a little too much from The Matrix and never fully explaining themselves (or the strange advanced technology the humans seemed to possess.

The philosophy also felt pretty heavy handed. It's wasn't all that subtle, largely spoon-feeding the reader some weighted discourses on the nature of reality that didn't really sound as though they came from the mouth of a teenage boy. However, I did love the themes of the novel. The story dealt with themes like homosexuality, child abuse and victim blaming in a mature way and its ultimate anti-suicide message was quite beautiful.

All in all, it's a mixed bag. I don't regret reading it but it's not the best that Ness has to offer.
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on 26 September 2015
I feel like I could draw a graph of my star rating for this book as different points, as it lurched between a two and a five, and between utterly unputdownable and needing to force myself to keep reading.

On the first page, our hero seemingly drowns in his American home town. In the next chapter, he's waking up in an abandoned and rundown version of the British town where he lived until the age of ten. Its entirely unclear whether this is a coma dream, the afterlife, something supernatural or something else entirely. In this respect, it reminded me a bit of Ashes to Ashes/Life on Mars. At first, I was utterly fascinated to find out the answer and to see what was going to happen to the hero. However, for chapter after chapter, he doesn't meet a single other person, face any threat or real excitement, or come any closer to an answer. I don't mind stories being a bit slow-burning, but this really struggled to hold my attention.

On the other hand, this was interspersed with flashbacks (or are they something else?!) to the day leading up to the drowning. Seth's family dynamics, school life and romantic crisis felt very believable and well-depicted, and made a nice counterpoint to the strangeness of the main plot.

I persevered, and eventually,he finally meets two other teenagers, at which point, the mystery deepens ever further and the story picks up again. For the next few hundred pages, I was absolutely engrossed. And then we finally get what seems to be an answer to what's going on. I was surprised and I was intrigued, but the more I thought about it, the less convincing or internally consistent it seemed. This is one book where you really want to avoid spoilers, so I'll say no more, other than that it reminded me very heavily of a very well known film.

After this point, I sort of expected there to be further revelations or a cranking up of the ambiguity. Instead, the plot seemed to lose focus and rely on some slightly far-fetched action scenes. I was still enjoying it, but it felt like a bit of a let down after the head-spinning nature of what had come before.

As an aside, in a world where it's still relatively rare, Ness should be applauded for his attempts to have a diverse central cast. When it came to Seth, this worked brilliantly. The fact that he was gay was a key component of the plot without being the plot or being the most important thing about him. But with only two other characters to play with, the author's attempts to make them as diverse as possible (a black, overweight female domestic violence victim and a young polish immigrant) felt a little bit forced, in a way it wouldn't have done with a larger cast or a more normal setting. And while the girl was a strong, well-developed character whose race and size were simply a part of her, the polish boy, despite clearly being presented as sympathetic, felt like a bit of a strange comic caricature, with his weird speech patterns, violent temper and tragic past.

I'd highly recommend this, but for me at least, it didn't quite live up to the "best YA book ever" or "change the way you see the world" buzz I'd heard about it. Some bits were pure brilliance, but I felt it needed some serious trimming and tightening, along with more tying up of loose ends and internal consistency.
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on 30 December 2016
This book opens with a teenager drowning. Then he wakes up ... in what appears to be his own personal hell. But things are not what they seem, either before or after his death.

This is a dystopian novel and might disappoint if you are looking for something about the afterlife, or ghosts, or whatever else you might expect from the book description. I loved it most of the way, although less so towards the end. The actual ending could be interpreted different ways, and I think a lot of readers might not like it. I hope there's going to be a sequel. Otherwise you are left hanging and guessing.

Having said that, I didn't want to put this down. For me, the parts about Seth's life before he drowned had a lot more emotional impact than his experiences afterwards.
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on 24 May 2015
This is very compelling. It feels a bit odd at first, and it's not a pleasant scenario, very much a dystopia, like so many young adult books. However it did draw me in and keep me intrigued. Then the plot plays out in a way which is a bit disappointing. Alluded to by the other reviews, it's a story that's been told before, and is quite derivative.

However that can be fine, most stories have been told before, some great books are just reworking some old tropes, in fact I'm sure a lot of the current YA dystopias wouldn't be here if it weren't for George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. The problem here is that it needs more exposition, the film with a similar theme has a great explanation for what happens. This doesn't, and it just didn't make sense. I can't really say more without spoilers.

Still I would recommend this book, it's not as great as the Chaos Walking books, but maybe if there's a sequel it can be, and I would love a sequel just to see if it all makes a bit more sense.
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on 19 December 2016
This story follows our main character, Seth, as he wakes up in a familiar yet surprisingly different world following his death. We get to see him explore this new world and discover some surprising secrets, which continue to develop at a good pace (without being overwhelming) throughout the course of the book.

This is a very well crafted story, both in terms of plot and character development. There are no dead zones here at all; I was gripped from the first sentence right through to the very satisfying and intriguing end. After having a run of bad books which I simply couldn't finish this was a very good feeling to say the least!
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on 7 November 2014
This is a strange book. The premise is strange, the characters are strange, the setting is strange. The protagonist Seth is driven to suicide because of the circulation of what seems like a relatively innocent ‘selfie’ but finds that after death he is transported from America back to the England of his early childhood, and nothing is what it seems to be. There is a parallel world in which he is at first alone but then meets two others, as strange in their own ways as he is. We are told the story of his life in England and the crisis that pushed the family to move halfway round the world to America. And there we are told the story of his love for another boy although the depth of this relationship is never really explained – love yes but did it go further?
But as the situation in this life after death world worsens by the day, where the group are apparently hunted by forces that would return them to a living death, we start to wonder which world is real and which is not. Does this ‘world’ extend beyond one town in England? Is the same thing happening all over the world? Would the pursuing forces not send reinforcements?
But I read it to the end if only to find the answers. Seth wanted those too. We are never told and as Seth seeks to resolve this, the story just stops. Oh.
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on 4 November 2015
I don't quite know where to start with this book. First, let me say thank you to Amazon for being able to find it! Why was it so difficult? Because I happened to come across a digital billboard advert on the underground when it was released and could only remember two things. The book had a door on its cover and there was a boy drowning!

After some very meticulous Google searches, I managed to find this and bought this book immediately. Let me tell you, it was one of the most emotional, refreshing and gripping reads I've had of late, and I've not been able to find a book quite like this since.

The plot tugs at your heart so much but you feel for the characters you encounter. Suffice to say, you won't be able to put the book down the moment you pick it up!

Thank you Patrick Ness for a book that quite possibly blows Adult literature out the water, Young Adult fiction FTW.
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on 18 May 2014
More Than This by Patrick Ness (2013) published by Walker Books


Simply brilliant.

If you need an object lesson into how to feed your reader a big, fat, juicy mystery that just grows and grows into an obsession then read this book. We absolutely need to know what the hell is going on. But it is so much more than a mystery. As usual a story branded as Young Adult could very easily be re-branded speculative fiction. Patrick Ness is some kind a genius, a kind-hearted, realistic, clever and humane genius who challenges assumptions and suspends our disbelief with such a verve for character and voice that we're breathless at the verisimilitude of the world he has created. And like all truly great stories we don't want to leave it.

No spoilers here, so I won't say much about the story at all because the mystery is so delicious and strange that if I give any hints beyond the general I will disturb your total enjoyment of it. But, a word to the wise, you won't guess it, not in a million years because the heart of the mystery continues through to the very last paragraph. An utterly awesome read.

Seth dies. He dies horrifically, drowning in the sea. The books starts beautifully with a hook sentence so vicious it stays with you for the whole ride. It tugs you, that sentence, sliding you straight into to an opening death sequence as lovingly described as it is horrific.

"Here is the boy, drowning."

And yet, Seth wakes some time later in a new, empty and very disturbing world. It seems to be a version of his own earlier life, it seems to be both dream and reality, memory and future. It seems to be so many things. And, hooked by that first sentence and the scintillating narrative that follows, we flick and kick and struggle as we try to work out what the hell is going on. In this new and disturbing reality where nothing is as it seems Seth meets Regine and Tomasz, fellow refugees in this dark never, never land beyond death and together they run, fight and hide from the mysterious Driver, a man-like thing in a metallic suit who pursues them through the empty, dust-choked streets.

More Than This is science-fiction, fantasy, philosophy and human interest. More Than This explores deep philosophical issues, sticking rigidly and beautifully to its theme. It tackles important and controversial subjects, domestic violence, suicide, our obsession with the on-line world and homophobia.

But more than this (did you see what I did there?) it is a fantastic mystery story which bowls along at an exquisite pace. It is an example of an experience that is only possible in books. It transforms you, like sticking your head in the bucket of some else's life. I listened to this on Audiobook and got through it in four days flat. My black labradors were pleased, their walks longer and my family were pleased because I did over and above my regulation chores.

This is poetry disguised as prose at times, achingly sorrowful in places and full of action both in mind and body. The journey Seth takes you on as he discovers what the hell is going on will bring you right back to deep questions about your own approach to life.

Patrick Ness has won two Carnegie medals for Chaos Walking trilogy and A Monster Calls, if he doesn't get one for this it will be a tragedy. I hope your chest is wide enough Patrick. Well done to all concerned. Fiction at its very best.

Go on, go buy it now, start it today and I guarantee you won't be able to put it down.

Are you sitting comfortably..

"Here is the boy, drowning..."

***** (Five stars)
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on 12 October 2013
Great story, hooks you from the start. The first part of the book really grabs you and the mystery of the circumstances the main character finds himself in are brilliantly described. I just couldn't put it down until I'd found out what was going on, which happens much later in the book and keeps the mystery going beautifully. When you do find out, stay with it and don't dismiss it as a rip off from a famous movie, it's not. The story is different in so many ways and the tension in every page will keep you wanting more.

I'd heard the author being interviewed on the Simon Mayo show on Radio 2 and was sufficiently intrigued to want to read it. I deliberately didn't read any reviews before I read the book because the essence of the first several chapters is in the mystery and I'm so glad I went into it with no knowledge of the key plot line. Loved the gradual unfolding of the main character's situation and all the twists and turns and surprises that hit you along the way.

The ending is wide open for a sequel and I really hope Patrick Ness builds on this brilliant story line and gives us more of the same.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 May 2014
I simply cannot understand how this novel is getting 1 or 2 star reviews, especially by people claiming it has 'no story'. This is a brilliantly written, fast paced, clever novel. No, it might not be for those who like everything neatly tied up and explained - it makes you think. So if you don't like having to think at any point during a novel, then it might jar. However, that shouldn't be a reason to criticise the novel, or the writing. I don't want to say too much about the plot, for fear of spoiling it. However, it rattles along at a fantastic pace and the characters are wonderful. Especially Tomasz - a funny, loveable Polish boy who has hair you'd just want to ruffle if you met him in real life!

People have also criticised More Than This for borrowing from films like the Matrix. Couldn't really see it myself. You could put up the same argument about Christopher Priest's The Extremes or Ernest Cline's Ready Player One - both very good novels. Neither like the other, neither like More Than This. Yet all have a strand of commonality. It doesn't make them unoriginal though. If we're going to ban themes on account of the fact they've been touched on before, then nobody ought to ever write another novel about a serial killer, vampire or dysfunctional family.

More Than This has a depth to it. It makes you ask questions (and I think it will resonate with teenagers) but those questions are artfully nestled among page-turning incidents and an emotional back-story. It seems that there could be a sequel in the offing and, if there is, I'll definitely be buying it.
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