“But the hell you make for yourself is still hell, maybe.”
More Than This by Patrick Ness
Genre: Young Adult
Published by Candlewick Press, 2013
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: I won’t be returning to this one.
Reviewed by Indiana
Spoilers Ahead (kinda)
I really wish there was more to More Than This.
After reading A Monster Calls, I was pumped for this one. It sounded like it had similar themes and that it would be diving down into similar emotional depths. Yet, More Than This was twice the length of A Monster Calls and half the story.
The book opens promisingly and stunningly, with the suicide of the main character, Seth. He wakes up in his childhood home in England and is confused because it seems like the world is over. There’s nobody else around, everything is overgrown and there’s hardly any wildlife. He goes about trying to find food and remembering his past every time he falls asleep for weeelllll over 100 pages.
Finally, he meets two people: Regine, a black English teen, and Tomasz, a young Polish kid. They save him from what they’ve dubbed as the “Driver,” a robot that pops up and tries to kill them (or so they think . . . they always manage to escape). They all try to survive together for awhile; Tomasz is funny and even when a scene falls flat—and many of them do—he can be counted on to at least break things up a bit.
Eventually, after about another 100 or so pages, Seth and co. figure out that everyone else in England is living in this digital realm, which they woke up from by dying somehow. They find the place where everyone is stored and Seth goes in to explore, finding everyone in these coffin-like chambers with feeding tubes and peeing tubes and all that jazz sticking out of them. He finds the database of all the people living digital lives and finds that his parents are living all digital lives.
The Driver interrupts and the gang has to fight him off again and get back to safety. Once they’re safe again, Seth talks about why he wanted to die in the first place (long story short, he is gay and thought he’d found love. But his love’s parents found out and tore them apart. Then it got around school that Seth was gay and no one would talk to him. Then he found out that his lover cheated on him with a girl . . . rough time. Oh, and on top of that, he believed his mother and father blamed him for his brother’s death. Suffice it to say he had a lot going on).
Regardless, the big lesson was that no one knows what’s going to happen in life. Sometimes we make up a narrative to make it all make sense, even when it doesn’t. But no matter what, there’s always more than what you see before you. There’s always more to life than your current situation. Which would have been fine, if it had been supported by a great story.
In case anyone is wondering how it ended, everything stopped with a big question. Seth was about to attempt to go back into the digital life and maybe tell others there that there was more than the digital life . . . I guess.