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Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

Hello Readers and Friends,

A new book review this week. My first read by Patrick Ness and I did it because John Green told me to. And if the creator of Alaska Young tells me that a book made him go, 'oh my God,' then I'm going to read it.

I gave it 3 stars. Bronte recommended it to me (podcast to follow!) as she loved it. And when I go on Goodreads, it seems like everyone else loved it too. John Green bloody loved it. And it left me feeling really confused, like did I miss something? Is everyone reading the same thing as me?

The blurb hooked me, I'll be honest. And when the first page opens with the main character dying, you're gripped pretty much instantly. The spoiler-free synopsis is that a boy dies, then wakes up again in what he believes is hell. So let's go into this...

Let's break it into talking points of what I liked, and didn't.

The Writing Itself
The writing is fine. It's easy to read and  and I finished the book pretty quickly considering it's size. Ness keeps you twisting and turning, never sure what's real and what isn't. In all honesty, I found the first half of the book when the only character in the world is Seth a little boring. It was quite slow-paced and when there's no other characters to interact with and all you have to deal with is Seth's inner monologue, it can get very boring and tedious. How many times is he going to pee? How many times is he going to think about how tired and hungry he is? Spoilers: too many. But once the second half of the book started and new characters were introduced it got much more interesting. And as I said, it was very twisty and unpredictable, which kept me turning the pages quite happily.

God, sorry, but Seth is so boring. Everyone on Goodreads is raving about him being a great LGBT character but I found him super bland, and I found his relationship with Gudmand bland and boring too. There weren't enough flashbacks for me to really feel invested in them, or to understand just how much Gudmand meat to Seth. And really, Gudmand is the supposed only reason Seth has to live. When Seth loses Gudmand, he decides to kill himself, but we never get to see where this desperate love comes from. We see no banter, no deep connection, no nothing. It's a typical secret-gay-relationship-that-gets-discovered-and-is-banned. To me this wasn't groundbreaking LGBT representation, it was actually quite stereotypical and melodramatic in Seth's response to Gudman's betrayal. I just didn't understand why Seth loved him, or what there was to love. The deepest connection we witness is when they're lying in bed and Gudman is spouting some deep-yet-vague mumbo jumbo about beauty.

Thomasz was a nice character, the innocent and underestimated little Polish boy who is lost and lonely and clings to Seth and Regine. I really liked his character and the way it always ended up being him bailing the others out of trouble and being the bigger, braver one of the three. The only thing that I found a little annoying was his inconsistent language style.

Yeah, she was cool. Sassy big black girl from England with a take-no-shit attitude who didn't conform to any stereotypes as the only female character in the story, which was nice.

The Storyline
My understanding after reading GoodReads reviews is that the whole point is that you never really know what's happening and that everything is an ambiguous mystery with no clear conclusion (a bit like Inception), but for me there were WAY too many unanswered questions. It went far beyond being a cliff-hanger ending to being an unsatisfying and under-developed finish for me.
Perhaps I'm missing the point. To be honest, I feel like I was missing something big as it's so raved about. Who knows!

Here were my key unresolved questions:
1. How did the world get in this way? Was it global warming or what? They just keep saying the world was ending, but not explaining why or how?
2. When is this supposed to be set?
3. Who and what was The Driver? How did it heal Seth? If they have the power to heal people like that, surely they could have survived in the real world. Who made the Driver? Is there only one?
4. Why would Seth go back into the programme at the end? Surely this defies the whole point of the story, for him to want to escape his reality once more. Why couldn't they have stayed and freed everyone and started life up again? Or at least have given people the choice?
5. How did Thomasz end up in England? I feel like this part was explained but I didn't understand it?
6. Why was Thomasz murdered? Why would someone transport immigrants all the way overseas just to kill them?
7. Why could Seth see the others' memories but they couldn't see his?
8. Why was it such a big secret that Gudmand slept with Monica that Seth couldn't tell the others until the very end? Like they would have cared? They didn't even know Gudmand. I didn't even care.
9. Why did the three of them wake up? This malfunction was never explained properly. Surely there would be more people around the world with the same malfunction. I would have loved if they found this new civilization of people who had woken up over the years and found each other.

So that's about it for me now. I'll save the rest for the podcast which will inevitably come soon. Overall, I was dissappointed but still feel like I missed a bigger picture with this one as it's so highly regarded. I look forward to trying The Knife of Never Letting Go to get a better idea of Ness' writing.

C x


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