There's an ever growing pile of books I want to read…
I started writing this blog post WEEKS AGO and then life got in the way. The good news, though, is that my promotion is now official and I am actually the manager of my bookshop. Huzzah! I’m hoping that now this is official, I’ll be able to find the time again to post more regularly. I also have something very special lined up in a few weeks time!
And now back to your irregularly scheduled blog post:
When we hit the end of August, we start the (inevitably much quicker than I anticipate every single year!) slide into Bookseller Christmas. One of the best parts of the Christmas slide is the release of lots of exciting new hardbacks (paperbacks are great for summer travelling, but winter is more of a gifting time). Last Thursday (ed. – which was a actually now a few Thursdays ago!) was the first of the big new title days and I was very excited to unpack and shelve More Than This by Patrick Ness.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy of More Than This and I can guarantee that it is amazing.
There are two kinds of advance reading copies in the bookselling world. There are the kind that we contact the publisher for, begging and pleading (whilst trying very hard to appear as though we are not begging and pleading). There are also the kind that publishers send to the store, hoping very hard that someone will read and fall in love with them.
Every store has a graveyard of unloved advance reading copies, books that didn’t appeal or that weren’t taken simply because the booksellers already had too much on their reading plate.
I found More Than This in one such graveyard. I asked the staff, but none of them intended to read it.
So I took it and read it and fell in love with it. I’m so glad that it turned out that way, even though I feel sad that no-one appreciated it in the store where it originally landed.
I can’t tell you too much about the plot of More than This but I can tell you that it is about a boy who is drowning and who wakes up in a strange new place. Is he dead or alive? Is it the afterlife or some strange dream? What is real? Does the “realness” of an experience even matter if we are still experiencing it?
Because I am wary of spoiling too much, I won’t do my usual type of review but I will tell you a little (in the least spoilery way possible) to explain why you ABSOLUTELY MUST read it.
The writing is absolutely beautiful. There isn’t a single sentence that it could have done without and each sentence was incredibly skilfully put together. It really is a masterpiece of writing.
Patrick Ness recently gave a really interesting interview to io9 where he talked about how the crafting of a book is as important as the ideas that it contains, that terrible writing with a great idea at the centre or great writing with a terrible idea at the centre won’t resonate so strongly with a reader as a great idea supported by great writing. He explains it far more eloquently here but you should be aware there there ARE SPOILERS for More Than This in the interview.
The story raises some excellent questions about the nature of our experience and the nature of reality. Every time I felt like I knew, capital K Knew, what was going on, Ness pulled the rug out from underneath me and I was left wondering. I think it would probably be excellent to read it immediately after Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder.
I loved the main character, Seth, and getting to know him and understand what made him who he was really made the story something special.
At its heart, this is a story about the isolation that all teenagers feel. It’s about being alone (or, at least feeling that you are alone). It’s also a story about growing up and about making impossible choices.
I already knew that Patrick Ness is a great writer (I have not read The Crane Wife but all of his other books are incredibly good) but I really feel that he has pulled off something really special with this one. I don’t have enough superlatives to describe it.
I also found that I didn’t want to read another book for a while after I’d finished it and that the next book that I read (The Elites by Natasha Ngan) was still good but definitely suffered in comparison.
Buy it, Read it, Love it! Then come talk to me about how amazing it is!
P.S. In your local bookshop or library, the cover will look like this: