In a chilling prologue, a boy is drowning at sea. He tries over and over to save himself, but the water is too cold, the waves too rough, the craggy rocks too close. He is freezing—too cold to swim properly. And he is being smashed into the rocks by the waves.
As the novel proper opens, the boy has a name—Seth. And he has awakened into some weird world as the only person alive. It’s post-apocalyptic. He’s in a long-deserted English town, the boyhood home that he and his family had left after the terrible incident with his younger brother, Owen.
Is Seth in hell? Did he really die? Is the world he’s in now real? Was the life he remembers a dream? He certainly seems to be creating his universe. The things that he needs in order to survive appear as he desires them. A supermarket full of canned food and water. An outdoor supply store with sleeping bags, fuel and more. Uncanny escapes from danger.
And yet there are things in this world that are nothing Seth could have imagined on his own. The strange coffin-like pod in his attic, the presence of a creature intent on finding and killing him, and the unlikely sources of help that Seth finds.
How will Seth discover what is real and how will he stop the thing that is trying to kill him—if he’s actually alive?
High school housekeeping: As I’ve said before, I love Patrick Ness, and this is another great read. Like his other books, it’s longish (about 475 pages) and reading on grade level would be helpful. Nevertheless, Ness has the ability to end every single chapter on a cliffhanger—he does this better than any other YA author I’ve read. So if you are working on your reading skills, you just might find such a novel to be a great choice—you are pulled along rapidly, devouring the pages.
More Than This has the sci-fi feel of The Matrix, but it also ponders some serious questions about relationships, about the deep sorts of friendship in which one is willing to lay down his life for another. When others hurt us emotionally, how do we perceive their motivations versus the reality of what drives them to do what they do? What life events help us become the sorts of people we want to be?
There’s so much great adventure and action in More Than This—but if I discuss any of it, I think it will be a spoiler—because almost everything that happens is a big surprise, one unanticipated event after the next. So—just give Ness a try. I think you’ll be hooked.