I’ve read a whole bunch of reviews of More Than This over the past few years, but none of them ever really say what that book is about. Everyone talks about how much they like Patrick Ness, and that he really nails the voice of a troubled teen. But nobody mentions the plot of this book.
For good reason, I’ve learned.
I just finished reading this and I’m going to be spilling some spoilers. So really, don’t read this if you ever plan on picking up this book.
Seth is a troubled teen out in rural Washington who one day decides to commit suicide by walking out into the ocean. Fine. Sad, but fine. An interesting way to start a book.
But then, Seth wakes up outside of his childhood home, somewhere in the suburbs of London. Its his old neighborhood, but it also isn’t…There are no people and no animals. The weather is messed up. There is a thick coating of dust everywhere. And Seth is covered in weird bandages and has a shaved head.
Oh, and theres a huge, shiny, black coffin sitting open in his old bedroom.
Is Seth in Hell? Reliving his painful childhood?
Because Seth sure had a painful childhood. His little brother, Owen, was kidnapped by a prisoner who had escaped from the local neighborhood prison one day. Owen has never been the same after that trauma, and Seth’s parents always blamed him for Owen’s problems…leading Seth, of course, to blame himself, as well.
Every time Seth falls asleep, he has vivid dreams about his life. His family, his friends, his relationships, and the end of his first love (which led to him walking into the ocean). Seth is gay and was recently shamefully outed at school by one of his best friends, thereby ending his relationship with his best friend, Gudmund.
And this is where the book does the craziest twisty turn and I really just couldn’t deal.
Seth finally meets two other people in town, Regine and Tomasz. They help him escape from a crazy robot-man hybrid (“THE DRIVER”) who is chasing them all over the place, trying to kill them. And after spending time with Regine and Tomasz, Seth realizes that the life he remembers wasn’t actually his life. He didn’t die.
He was in a fricking Matrix. Living his life virtually, like the rest of humanity. And only now, in this grey and uninhabited world, has he really started to live.
The story then turns into a weird, extended chase scene. The kids run away from The Driver. The Driver finds them. The kids try to figure out who the Lethe program (which I’m really just going to call The Matrix) works. The Driver chases them. They fight. They run. They realize that life really is worth living.
Look. I get that Patrick Ness is a major talent in the YA world. But this book was a major miss for me. I really just wanted to read a book about Seth and Gudmund working through their relationship at school and with their families.
I did not want a YA angst filled Matrix.
Another complaint: The More Than This referenced in the intro is from a Peter Gabriel song, not the Roxy Music song. I refuse to accept that.
Interesting tidbit: I brought this home from the library and left it on the table in the living room. The 7 year old asked me what it was about, and said that the cover was cool. I agreed and told her that I didn’t really know what the book was about yet, and that maybe the door on the cover represented opening a new part of someone’s life. She laughed and said, “That’s not a door. Its a computer.” And when she turned the book on its side, it was.