A model of identity creation.
Have you ever felt that there had to be something more than what is going on? Like there is some point to it all? Patrick Ness addresses this issue in his latest novel More Than This. I’ve been a big fan of Patrick Ness since I read the Chaos Walking trilogy, and I consider him my biggest inspiration. I almost fainted when I saw that More Than This was going to be released. And I must say, I was not disappointed at all.
Reviewing this novel is a bit tricky, because it’s hard to talk about it without revealing spoilers. Therefore there might be a few spoilers in here. I would like people to stay spoiler free when reading this book, because it’s a book with a lot of twists and turns. However, since I’m a human and prone to mistakes, I might reveal some spoilers, but I’ll try my best not to. So, read it, now! I mean it. READ IT! It’s worth it… Okay, now the review.
More Than This revolves around Seth, a 17 year old boy, that dies. He shortly wakes up in a strange and yet familiar place. Alone. He wonders where he actually is and why he is there, and then finds out (without revealing any crucial spoilers) that he isn’t exactly alone. This story is about dealing with loss, coming to terms with a situation and the eternal quest of finding meaning in one’s life.
The book is divided into four parts, which contain rather short chapters (compared to other novels). These short chapters make the book very fast paced and enticed me to read further (“Just one more chapter!” I would say as my eyes turned to dust from being awake for too long). These short chapters are complimented by a very minimalistic writing style which Ness pulls off beautifully. Initially the minimalistic style did give a stop-start feel when reading, but I got used to it.
The stop-start nature actually helps with the progression and mechanics of the novel. The book is written in the first person present perspective and is reminiscent of a stream-of-consciousness style of writing, such as the style of Virginia Woolf, but Ness gives it a modern twist where the narrative says things, correct them, contemplate them, digress and pulls the train of thought back to reality (many books may already be doing this, but Ness pulls it off brilliantly and it fits the story). It literally feels like being inside Seth’s mind.
Even though there’s only a few of them, some scenes in the book are extremely violent. I actually cringed at some places. This might affect people that are very sensitive to violence. I think I remember there being something on twitter that the book is considered too violent (for a YA novel), but it was too long ago for me to care. I’m not easily affected by violence in literature (except when it has needles… *shudders*), so I was fine with the level of violence. On a certain level, the violence made it feel real.
If I could have one word to describe this novel, it would be “metafiction.” This novel screams metafiction, which is awesome, because I like anything meta. As an example, Seth continuously contemplates the probability of the situation being a story, as if he is supposed to learn something from it. He comments on how this story would typically go, and how the coincidences seem to be too coincidental. This metafiction therefore makes the story unimportant and focusses more on character development. By having Seth work through this situation as if it is a story, Ness comments on it as a model of identity creation.
Some people might be irritated with More Than This, because it doesn’t really explain much about what’s going on. It leaves you with a thousand questions by the end of the book, which will probably remain unanswered for the rest of your life. I know of one friend in high school that would call a book rubbish if it didn’t answer all the questions. However, for me, it works in this case. People might still be irritated by it, but that’s just it. Everything doesn’t have to be explained. That’s just how life is. Life is about working with what you’re given and just filling in the blanks for yourself. Essentially what this novel is about.
Hopefully I didn’t reveal much about the story. Not that it matters in the end, but I really do want everyone to read it if they haven’t.
Bottom line: More Than This is beautifully written and actually helped me a lot on a personal level (regarding finding meaning in everything and other private stuff). I just wish there was more than this (sorry, I tried, but I couldn’t resist. It would be a crime NOT to make this pun). It challenges you and gets you thinking. Most importantly, it gets you out of your comfort zone. I hope everybody gets to read this.
5 Golden Stars! (within each other… there’s some meta for you… I think that’s meta)
Note: I decided to scrap the out-of-a-hundred rating system, because thinking of a number that reflects the review is just too subjective. My 90 might be someone else’s 30 (and that’s a fail in university). So, instead I’m just using random stuff as a random measure, hopefully conveying what I feel, while trying to be funny and relevant. Hopefully this would make you guys read the review!