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More Than This by Patrick Ness

Seth vividly remembers dying. So why isn’t he dead?

Interests/Topics: immortality, romance, sexuality, friendship, family relations, teenage angst

Curriculum Connections: English (Science Fiction), Science

Gender: M/F

Age: 14+

Blurb: I wouldn’t say that I have a sixth sense per se, but I am highly intuitive. I’ve learned, through numerous experiences, to listen to my gut instinct. It has never steered me wrong. Usually it just gives me a niggling sensation that something about my situation is off; that the atmosphere around me isn’t conducive to my overall happiness. But there have been a few times when my relatively subtle instinct morphs into raving lunatic that screams, “Get Out Now!” I’ve probably avoided at least two bad relationships this way. I like to think of the raving lunatic side of my gut instinct as an overly protective brother sitting in a pick-up truck with a shotgun.

I thought about intuition, the sixth sense, and other strange phenomena like déjà-vu while reading Patrick Ness’ novel More Than This. I know that our minds can be very powerful; one only has to look at the results of placebo studies to see that people have made radical changes to their bodies simply through mind control. Cognitive therapy is on the rise, and bookshelves are lined with self-help manuals that promote the benefits of positive thinking. But are our minds convincing enough to give us a second chance at life?

Seth knows that he died. He remembers, in vivid detail, the relentlessness of the angry sea pounding him over and over again into a rock jetty until his skull fractured and his neck broke. Seth’s injuries are such that there is zero chance of recovery, so why does he wake up, alone and confused, in a long-abandoned town?

Is Seth’s mind in the last stages of death or is something more at play?

Flavour: “Here he is. In a dusty old house with no food left in it. With clothes that are a joke. Drinking water that is probably poisoning him. He doesn’t want to be outside, but he can’t stay stuck in here either. What’s he supposed to do? If only there was someone here to help him. Someone whose opinion he could ask. Someone he could share this weird burden with. But there isn’t. There’s only him.” (56)

“He freezes. The torch has caught the stairs. It’s the first time he’s properly looked at them, the first time a proper light has been on them, and he sees—footprints. In the dust coming down the stairs. He’s not alone. There’s somebody else here.” (83)

“Then he turns back to his own neighborhood on the other side of the tracks. What if the fire had happened over there rather than here? What if his own house had burnt down, not all these empty ones of strangers? Would he have woken up at all? On the other hand, he thinks, is this my mind trying to tell me something?” (124)

“You said we all want there to be more than this! Well, there’s always more than this. There’s always something you don’t know.” (361)

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