Nothing Clings Like the Past – ‘More than This’ by Patrick Ness


A book…It’s a world all on its own too. A world made of words…where you live for a while.

Readers of my review of The Crane Wife, will know that I am fully paid up member of the Patrick Ness fan club. So, it was with great excitement that I greeted news of a new YA novel. Those lovely people at Walker books were kind enough to send me a copy, and it went straight to the top of the reading pile.

More Than This is staggering. From start to finish, it is a relentless, captivating read. It opens with Seth, a boy on the cusp of adulthood, floundering in freezing waters, thrown onto jagged rocks. He dies. The rest of the book shows what to him happens next. Much as with The Crane Wife, to disassemble ‘More Than This’ and lay it bare for review, is to diminish it. The narrative and themes link together to form a beautiful, seamless whole that cannot easily be conveyed.

To be honest, I needn’t add much else. Stop reading this, and go and find a copy, now!

On the off chance you’re still here, I shall try to explain just why I think the book is so good. I won’t dwell on story and plot points. They’re impeccable but they’re only half of what this novel is about. This a novel about life, about existence, about our place in the world. With its target audience struggling to work out where they fit in, More Than This might just be the perfect handbook.

It offers no easy answers, for there are none, but it is an ideal tonic for those who are feeling unloved, unappreciated, misunderstood (i.e. most of us). The exact nature of Seth’s destination remains malleable; hell, alternate reality, past, present or future, virtual, hallucination or real? Seth’s quest to discover the truth of his predicament reveals more about himself than it does his location.

This is a beautiful life-affirming novel, about friendship and trust, about accepting our life for what it is, and ourselves for who we are. The writing makes for effortless reading and is wonderfully observed. In places it is devastating, and should carry a health warning for a parent with boys of 8 and 4. It had me in pieces.

In my opinion this book surpasses my previous Ness favourite, The Ask and the Answer, but they are both great for similar reasons. Both tales twist their readers preconceptions, and in doing so reveal a little piece of how humanity works. The conclusion to the story is well balanced and in perfect keeping with what came before. It is, perhaps, the novel’s assertion that there may not be ‘more than this’, and so we should make the very best of it. Start by reading this book.

Many thanks to Sari and the team at Walker Books for being kind enough to indulge this desperate fanboy!


7 thoughts on “Nothing Clings Like the Past – ‘More than This’ by Patrick Ness

  1. Great review. Sounds like a must read. I’ve been wondering what it’s like since I read the Crane Wife earlier this year and loved it and also I love the More Than This cover.

    1. Thanks Eric, I would say pretty much everything Patrick writes is must-read. He seems to be so good a dissecting the human condition. He effortlessly gets to the heart of everything.

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