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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
More Than This
Format: Hardcover|Change
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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 25 December 2016
I was frustrated by the opening, which I was finding confusing until the story really kicked in. Then, I realised the confusion was appropriate; it was what Ness wanted. From there onwards the story kept me hooked until a similarly frustrating ending. Again, it could be nothing else. This is a story begging to be made into a film.
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on 6 March 2017
The story development was good, if sometimes disjointed and characterisations good, but the ending disappointing. Left looking for next page
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on 14 August 2017
It's YA rather than a fully grown up read, otherwise it might have scored hgher
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on 14 October 2017
Is a gift but chosen as he is a 'good' writer.
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on 1 October 2017
Really beautiful. He's just a brilliant writer
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on 27 April 2017
amazing book
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on 26 April 2017
Fantastic book bought for son
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on 28 August 2017
great history
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