Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

Before I tell you what this book is about, let me tell you about my experience reading it.  I read this book and basically thought: what the heck just happened here.  So I read it again.  Then I asked a friend to read it.  Then I found another friend who had read it and asked her tons of questions.  It took me a while to process what I thought about this book because I wasn’t sure that I understood what was happening in the book.  If I had to use one word to describe it it would be this: Surreallism.

About More Than This

A boy named Seth drowns in what I can only described as one of the most amazing scenes I have ever read.  It is visceral.  I cried.  A lot. Then he wakes up, seemingly not dead but in a very bizarre world.  Though the particulars of the world differ greatly, it seems most fitting to compare the situation as Matrix-like.  Or, surrealism.  Or trippy.  The rest of the book is basically a quest to figure out where Seth is and how to get back home, unless he is dead, which is also an important question.  In this other place where Seth is he meets two people who are going through the same thing as him.  Maybe together they can answer their questions?

More Than This is like opening door after door into a funhouse mirror.  But, because this is Patrick Ness, there is some fantastic discussion and insight behind each door about the meaning of life, love, and who we are.  Even in the times when I wasn’t sure what was happening, I recognized that I was reading greatness.  The details didn’t always matter – but the insight into the human condition did.  It was moving and profound, and very discussable.

Here’s the deal: You shouldn’t read reviews of this book.  You don’t want to be spoiled.  Also, there is no describing it.  None.  Also, the what – as I have mentioned – isn’t so much important as the how we get there, the discussion.  But the details along the way are amazing – there is this “character”, amazeballs.  And this scene, so visually freaking spectacular.

Final Thoughts

This book is glorious greatness – for the right readers – with a ton of what the heck is happening here.  It will blow your mind.  It will haunt you.  It will make you question what you think you know about reality.  There is a profound story within here about sexuality and love.  This is a haunting, touching exploration of life and death, the meaning of reality, and what we are willing to fight for.  Both PW and SLJ gave it starred reviews, deservedly.  Definitely and highly recommended. Publishes September 2013 from Candlewick Press. ISBN: 9780763662585.


  1. You make me feel like I didn't give this book the attention it deserved. I agree with what you said, and it definitely gives you a lot to think about. The thing that bothered me is not that I felt so disconcerted throughout the entire book, but that I still felt this way at the end. I get that it's “that kind of book” but I guess I don't enjoy “that kind of book.”

  2. Annette,

    I totally agree that it is “that kind of book” and will have a limited audience. It took me a while and the input of others to process it. What I liked was the discussion about what it means to be living and one of the relationships in the “real world”. So although I think libraries should buy it, I don't think that it will have the broad, general appeal and high circs of other titles. It is, indeed, “that kind of book.”

Speak Your Mind