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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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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 27 April 2017
amazing book
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on 26 April 2017
Fantastic book bought for son
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on 1 October 2013
I found this book very disappointing after reading the brilliant Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness, it was very dull in places had a similar story to a popular movie from the late 90's. It did not leave me wanting to read the next installment.
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on 23 April 2017
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on 11 April 2017
More than this is a great sci-fi book
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When we first meet 17 year old Seth Wearing he's not in a good place, in fact he's drowning in a freezing, raging sea, his head and shoulder smashed on jagged rocks. But then Seth wakes up ....

And what a world he wakes up in. Despite moving to America with his family eight years earlier, Seth finds himself back in his childhood home in England. However, the familiarity ends there; he is alone in a barren, desolate landscape where everything is encased in dust and weeds and he has to forage for food and supplies in deserted shops. Seth's waking nightmare soon turns into a battle for survival and on the way he meets two fellow young travellers, Regine and Tomasz, who are equally scared and damaged, but also brave and determined in their fight for survival.

The story of how they came to be in this twilight world is gradually revealed and it's an inventive and pretty complex one. As you would expect in a modern YA novel there are topical themes such as race, immigration and sexuality, and Ness weaves these into his poetic narrative seamlessly, with no hint of banner waving or political correctness. Despite their tragic backgrounds, Regine and Tomasz bring some much needed light, humour and friendship into Seth's life, and Seth himself is a very endearing and sympathetic figure, carrying a burden of guilt which no-one his age should have to bear and still wrestling with the demons and broken heart which led to him to his watery grave.

Although I'm not much of a YA or Sci-Fi reader, I love a good post-apolcolyptic, dystopian story and this is certainly one of the better ones I've read recently . Of course Patrick Ness has form - his Chaos Walking trilogy (which I haven't read yet, though I loved The Crane Wife) has won many awards and I think he may be onto a winner with this one too. The ending is very ambiguous and open (almost frustratingly so), but if, as I hope, there's a sequel and perhaps also further instalments on the way, then this beguiling and thought-provoking novel has certainly whetted my appetite.
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on 31 October 2013
What a read. this should be turned into a movie. I read it whilst I was traveling and finished it in 2 days.
It was dark, emotional, slightly chilling but then also slightly warming too... I felt like I had been bashed around a bit by the time I had finsihed it.

I've talked about this book on numerous occassions since. It left something with me.. I think not since a clockwork orange have I done that.
I often think about the story. Considering I'm a desensitized old git that really does say something about this.
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