Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Plot Summary:
He just died and he doesn't know where he is. The last thing he remembers is drowning and being pummeled by waves and the cracking of his bones. He remembers the pain, the despair, and the loneliness. When he wakes up, he is in a place that is strangely familiar, but everything is not what it seems. It hurts to breathe and it hurts to open his eyes, but, somehow, he is able to see, hear, and feel. He's dead, but he's not. He is convinced he is in his own personal hell because the home he once lived in London appears before his eyes. With every step, his body shutters and no matter how tired or painful it may be, it gets better little by little. In fact, when the memories come flooding back, the house seems to know and things start to change. First, he remembers what its like to be aware. When he realizes that he is covered in metallic bandages, he scrambles for clothing. Next, he remembers thirst and looks for water. When he his thirst is quenched, he realizes that he is hungry Why would a dead person be thirsty or hungry? As he remembers what its like to feel, he finally remembers his name: Seth. Seth believes he doomed to spend an eternity in a home that filled with many painful memories. However, Seth wants to know why he is here and what he is supposed to do. Among the weeds and dust, there has to be a reason why he is back in this moment in time. As he ventures out into his old neighborhood, more memories appear he tries, desperately, to put everything together to answer the most important question: why is the world covered in dust, soot, and ash?

Critical Evaluation:
I did not expect this story to turn out the way it did. In fact, I was a little confused as to the direction this story was going, but, once all of the answers to the many questions had been revealed, I was seriously hooked. Despite the slow beginning, Patrick Ness has written a story that gives Science Fiction a new meaning and purpose. This story is about a guy who made a mistake, as a child, and has been suffering from the consequences ever since. Not to mention, he is also dealing with his own sexuality, which no one (not even his parents and friends) can help him cope with. After the incident with his younger brother Owen, Seth has been paying the price, which will anger readers: his mother is absolutely awful and his father is emotionally crippled so it's no wonder why Seth cannot confide in his own flesh and blood. In between surviving the wasteland, his memories of the past get stronger and stronger, and, when the unthinkable occurs, Seth starts to question everything. As I said earlier, I did not expect this heart-wrenching story to be set in an alternate reality because when one thinks of Science Fiction, we are anticipating epic space battles and total destruction. However, I am seriously impressed with Ness' ability to write a very real and very human story where the setting and time doesn't overshadow the focus of the story. Once I realized that Seth isn't really in his own personal hell, I couldn't wait to find out why he and his companions were the only ones aware. Although this "realization" is very Matrix-esque, Seth, for once in his life, has the ability to prove that he is not the depressed teenager who believed he lost everything meaningful and precious, but a leader who is not only brave, but powerful at the same time. The action sequences will set pulses racing and the bonds that he forms with Regine and Tomasz will resonate with readers. Seth's character transformation is remarkable and the ending will either anger or satisfy readers immensely.   

Information about the Author:
According to the FAQ section of his website:
Who are you?
I’m Patrick Ness, born at the stroke of midnight on the new millennium, suckled by wolves (well, a wolf and an open-minded Weimaraner), and schooled by Jesuit mermaids. I’m from America, live in England, and am a blending of both (with a firm genetic trunk of Norwegian. It’s why I’m tall and freckly. Skol!). I’ve had lots of jobs but won’t bore you with the usual wacky list, though I did teach creative writing at Oxford University for three years. Which wasn’t even remotely wacky. At all. Currently, I write books, but that’s probably why you’re here.

What have you written?
I’ve written six books which you can read more about on the Books Page. The Chaos Walking trilogy and A Monster Calls for young adults, plus a novel for adults called The Crash of Hennington and a short story collection for adults called Topics About Which I Know Nothing. More to come, more to come.
What else have you written?
Short stories, journalism, radio plays, screenplays. It’s good to flex the writing muscles, and yep, that’s a tip. Check out the Writing Page for more.

What prizes have you won?
Right, it’s horrible of me to even pretend that you’d actually ask that, so I apologise profusely. Nevertheless, people do actually occasionally want to know, so here’s the current list:
The Knife of Never Letting Go won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the James Tiptree Memorial Prize. It was also shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal.

The Ask and the Answer won the Costa Children’s Book of the Year Prize and was also shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and the Booktrust Teenage Prize.

Monsters of Men won the Carnegie Medal and was shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award and the Galaxy National Book Award.

A Monster Calls won the Galaxy National Book Award and is currently (Jan 2012) shortlisted for the RedHouse Book Award.
Again, I’m sorry.
 
Genre:
Teen Contemporary Fiction


Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 10 & up

Books Similar to More Than This:

Awards & Recognition:
From Amazon.com

Ness brilliantly plays with contrasts: life and death, privacy and exposure, guilt and innocence. In characteristic style, the author of the Chaos Walking trilogy delves into the stuff of nightmares for an existential exploration of the human psyche.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Books are often described as ‘mind-blowing,’ but this is one of the few books in which, while reading it, I have exclaimed aloud, ‘Oh. My. God.’ on multiple occasions. I won’t tell you anything else about it. Just read it.
—John Green

It is a gorgeous story with masterful pacing and unforgettable passages.
—The Boston Globe

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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