Monday, October 21, 2013

More Than This, by Patrick Ness

Mostly, I love the way all my books (too many, not enough) bring me peace just by standing at attention along my bookshelves.

That's a quotation from Patrick Ness, taken from an article he wrote in The Guardian decrying terrible book covers. Which I thought was particularly apropriate, since I bought the hardcover version of More Than This precisely because the cover was so arresting. (The doorway is a hole in the cover. Very cool effect.) I thought I would like to have this book standing at attention on my shelves.

And I wanted to read it. Ness is an intense writer (you can tell by my incoherent reviews of his Chaos Walking trilogy). He's also thoughtful and intelligent. I knew this book wouldn't be boring; I knew it would leave me reeling a bit at the end; I knew it would make me think. I wasn't wrong.

Here's my review from Goodreads:

I'm torn between wanting to strangle Patrick Ness and doing the Wayne's World "I'm not worthy" thing. If you're a budding writer and you want to understand the concept of pacing, read any of Patrick Ness's books. The guy knows how to string you along with just enough ridiculous mystery and tension until you're almost ready to throw the book across the room but you have to turn the page first to see what happens next.

More Than This is sort of half-way between Chaos Walking and A Monster Calls (my review here): more philosophical than the first, more action than the second. Some people are going to hate it for not matching their expectations. Don't have any expectations when you go into this. That's one of the points of the whole thing. It's a meta reading experience: the experience you have as the reader is an essential part of the novel itself. (That tension and frustration and wanting to strangle Ness? Definitely an intentional part of the experience.)(Connie Willis is another author who does the same thing.) So don't spoil yourself by reading spoilery reviews. You want to have no idea what's going on; you want to discover it along with Seth. Every time you think you've figured it out, you'll find it's more than you thought it was.

More Than This is a taco salad: is it a salad? Is it a taco? Is it some strange third thing with everything good about both that's somehow more than the sum of its parts? At some point you have to give up and just enjoy its crunchy goodness.

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