More Than This: A Review
John Green’s quote on the front of my copy of Ness’ More Than This completely captures what I think of this YA novel: ‘Just Read It.’
I don’t want to say too much, because I don’t want to ruin any part of this amazing YA novel for anyone, but here’s a taster.
Seth is dead. He knows he is dead. But is he? If he is dead, why is he up and walking around? What are these strange bandages around his body and why does he have marks on his skin? Then Seth realises where he is. Hell. This must be hell, mustn’t it? He’s awoken in the place that holds the very worst memories for him – his childhood home. His sleep is punctured by memories of his first love and his family, from when he was alive.
Then, Seth meets Regine and Tomasz; if there are other people here, how could this place be hell? With the help of his new friends, he manages to evade the monster-like figure of The Driver whose only intention is to kill the three inhabitants of…wherever they are. Surrounded by sci-fi like technology, Seth, Regine and Tomasz must discover where they really are, why they are the only people there and what these mysterious coffins are, of which there are thousands.
What I Thought
Ness uses a three act structure, with a short fourth part concluding the novel. Undoubtably, the first ‘act’ or Part 1 was my favourite part of the book and possibly my favourite first act ever, rivalling even the Hunger Games. Seth spends Part 1 alone and Ness so brilliantly captures the feeling of loneliness, the feeling of acceptance and the feeling of fear. Seth struggles to survive and in doing so reminds himself of his desire to do just that – survive. It is a wonderful Part 1, the mood is just fantastic – I could have read a whole book just in this world. The world of Seth.
I also completely adored the way Ness unravels Seth’s past: the way that he intersperses Seth’s memories with Seth’s realisations about what was actually real and what he only thought to be. Seth’s first love and his family are not exactly typical, but not at all our of the realms of possibility. In them I see something in my loves, my family, my past.
I love how unreal Regine and Tomasz are – it makes both Seth and the reader question if they are in fact, real. And that’s the whole magic of the novel – trying to recognise what is real and what isn’t.
Lastly, I feel so drawn to the way Ness introduces Science Fiction into Young Adult. [I say ‘young adult’ but I really do think many YA novels, including More Than This can – and should – be read by adults.] Personally, science fiction is one of my great loves, but it can be difficult for some to get into and this is a fantastic example of how YA can help with that introduction.
In a Sentence
A fantastic novel for anyone with curiosity about reality, sexuality or science fiction.