More than This by Patrick Ness

I just finished More than This by Patrick Ness and these are my thoughts on it. 

The book
The book starts with a boy drowning. He keeps trying to breach the surface, but is then pounded against some rocks and he dies. Then he wakes up, outside his childhood home in England, thousands of miles from where he drowned (Washington State), outside a house he hasn’t seen since he was eight. He wakes up in a world that barely seems real, and surely it can’t be real? He died. The story takes off from there with Seth trying to figure out what happened, and whether he is in fact dead, and what this barren, empty place is.

What I thought
This is the kind of book you shouldn’t really know too much about because it’ll ruin a lot of the experience, so I’ll try to be as un-spoiler-y as possible. But I might mess up without meaning to, so proceed with caution, and also, sorry if I fuck up.

I really liked it. I’ll just get that out of the way right away. It’s good. But then again, it’s Patrick Ness, so you know. I like Patrick Ness, was the implication there.

I liked Seth as a main character, he’s very interesting and sort of damaged, and I love him so much. Throughout the whole novel there are like flashbacks or dreams to Seth’s life before he drowned. And for a long time there are references to this “awful thing” that happened, that is somehow maybe his fault. And it has sort of affected his whole life and his relationship with his family, specifically his parents. And obviously it affects how he interacts with other people, outside his family. It was sort of achingly beautiful and sad how he constantly thinks about the “awful thing” (by the way, never once is it referred to as that, I just don’t want to say what it is). It’s a bit like Looking for Alaska where the chapters are counting down, every time there’s a new memory we got a bit closer to finding out what the “awful thing” is, and it’s a really cool way of telling the story.

I would mention the other characters, but suffice to say I like them, and I’ll focus on the characters from Seth’s past. The main characters are Seth’s family, where his parents seem to sort of be falling apart, but are still staying together because, who knows? Mutual resentment? And his younger brother Owen. Seth has a very fraught relationship with his parents, specifically his mother. His dad seems to genuinely love him, and care for him, and want to help him, but his mother clearly blames Seth for the “awful thing” and is a lot less shy about it. She doesn’t say it out loud, but it’s part of all their interactions, which of course doesn’t do much good for Seth, he’s 16, and his mother treats him like a neighbour who upset her, and for some reason has to live with her. When I found out what the “awful thing” was, and even before, because of how she interacted with Seth, I was really angry with her. She just seemed so mean to him, and I felt like there was nothing that could justify it. When I read on, I did understand her, but she’s still so cruel, and mean, and it’s so wrong, that I find it hard to sympathize with her. I think she’s an incredibly good character, because she made me think, and she made me feel things.

I really like that it’s a book about the afterlife, and thoughts about the afterlife. Mainly because I am a filthy heathen and have no faith in God, or an afterlife, but I find it incredibly fascinating. This is not to knock people who do believe in either God or an afterlife, you go for it. And I know you know you don’t need my permission, I’m just saying, you do and think what you want, I will probably find you interesting, because while I don’t believe in God, I find religion fascinating. More than This isn’t a religious book in that way, there is no mention of religion, apart from Seth thinking he might be in Hell. It looks a lot at why Seth ended up where he ended up, and then what is real, and what isn’t real, and it is fascinating. I like the idea that there is an afterlife, I just happen to not believe in it, which is a silly contradiction, but I don’t care. Yeah, anyway. I found that fascinating, it’s very hard to talk about this, because one misstep and I will fuck up everything.

I like Seth’s friends, H, Monica and Gudmund. They have a sort of quirky, odd friendship where they sort of function because they’re all sort of outsiders and Gudmund generally being a very popular person. It’s also fascinating to see how sort of volatile the friendship dynamic is. This is just me balancing on the edge now, so I’ll stop. But I find their dynamic fascinating.

So, I’ll finish up now, because I doubt I can say anything else without ruining everything. Except: Patrick Ness is a superb writer, he writes beautifully and it’s fascinating, and strange, and I love it. I love him. This is getting creepy now. I’m going to stop.

Final thoughts

It was interesting, and strange, and beautiful.