More Than This - Patrick Ness image
Look. Here's the thing. I am not generous with my five star ratings. Five star readings must have shocked me or blown my mind or done something really original or otherwise awesome to get me to throw that final star in their direction. So a four star rating is, for me, really really good. I want you to remember that and realise how good this book is when I say I just expected something more from Ness. Let's make a joke about it: I just expected more than this. Ha. And maybe it's because I'm too hard on Ness. Maybe it's because I expect him to continue churning out five star books as if it's as easy as breathing. But this book made me feel like something was missing.

[b:More Than This|17262303|More Than This|Patrick Ness||22008332] is a compelling read with a wonderful and diverse set of characters. It's creative and different. It has you on the edge of your seat, turning pages as fast as possible and making a nearly 500-page book fly by at an almost impossible speed. It's philosophical and clever. It's sad and creepy. It throws in some funny dialogue to lighten the incredibly dark mood. It's a great book. Really. And yet it felt like 480 pages of build-up that never actually reached a climax. But, honestly, I was never bored for a single second. I was mesmerized, horrified, confused, excited. So much so that I think the lack of a climax bothered me even more.

This book is about existentialism. It's about those old questions: what is the meaning of life, the universe and everything? What is "reality"? Is there a pattern amid this chaos or can it all really be random? And, of course, is there something more than this? Ness is a genius and I love what he does here. I love the message. I love that every answer opens up five more questions. I love that every time you and the characters think you know what's going on, he throws another surprise into the philosophical pot and stirs up this crazy story a bit more. And what it all comes down to, what this whole book is really doing, is answering that question above all questions: do any of the answers really matter anyway?

Ness also finds himself back in familiar territory when telling the story of unlikely friendships blooming in the most unexpected places. He isn't the kind of author who wastes secondary characters and he delivers small pieces of heart-breaking humanity to even the most fleeting glimpses of those we never see again. I love authors that can do this. It lends an extra layer of believability to the story when it feels like that person who only appeared for a couple of pages went on living past what we saw of them. I was also delighted to see a gay protagonist; there is still nowhere near enough of them in YA books, but then I suppose Ness has never shied away from breaking the mold.

I do love me some existentialist philosophy and [b:More Than This|17262303|More Than This|Patrick Ness||22008332] is full of quotes that could give me goosebumps if I spent too long thinking about them. I guess there's always something a bit scary about it, isn't there? When some book (or whatever) lays out a haunting piece of truth that you didn't even realise you knew was true until you read or heard it. Then you're like: Oh shit, yeah. That's true. That's life. That's me. Ness just writes about things we all feel or worry about or obsess over. And he writes about it beautifully. Here's a couple of quotes I liked but there were so many more:

"Haven't you ever felt like there has to be more? Like there's more out there somewhere, just beyond your grasp, if you could only get to it..."

"People see stories everywhere," Regine says. "That's what my father used to say. We take random events and we put them together in a pattern so we can comfort ourselves with a story, no matter how much it obviously isn't true. We have to lie to ourselves to live. Otherwise, we'd go crazy."

So, believe me, I liked this. If you're excited about [b:More Than This|17262303|More Than This|Patrick Ness||22008332], you can stay excited. If you're thinking about maybe reading this, I say YES! If you didn't really like his other books but think this sounds pretty interesting, I again say YES because this isn't anything like his other books. It's just me, I guess, always expecting too much from Ness. Just being stupid. Just being human and always expecting more than this. Ha.