24 August 2014

What if you woke up and found that you were dead and everyone else had disappeared?

Science fiction/YA | More than this | Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness is the author of the best-selling Chaos Walking trilogy, about which the resident teen says (in tones of stricken awe): “It totally ruined my childhood!” I have the nasty feeling that I have not reviewed all the books in that trilogy, but never mind. I'll sum up and say that it introduced true and mundane evil to readers through the adventures of two young teens on a different planet. There, men's and animals' (including alien animals) every thought is broadcast to all, while only women's thoughts are not. One man decides to eliminate women and rule the world. It's about responsibility, about integrity, about the reactions of people to repression and how easily populations can be subjugated and subdued, and where true resistance and courage come from, and about ends and means.

Before I come to this book, let me just point out a few coincidences. I've just told you about a book by Seth Partick. Well, this book is by Patrick (Ness) about Seth (the main character). Howzzat?

As the blurb says, a boy dies. Drowns. All the way dead. And then he wakes up in his childhood home. Except that there is nobody else in the world. All the houses are empty and abandoned. There is old, stale food in cans, most puffed up and dangerous, and some water. There are hardly any animals. Plants have run riot. Abandoned cars and trains, and whole acres of burned-out city greet the weak and terrified Seth.

A typical teen nightmare (I've yet to write my own version of the story of waking up in a dead and abandoned world, so I presume all teens have this scary vision). 

Slowly, we find why Seth drowned through flashbacks of his life every time he goes to sleep.

Yet, it's increasingly confusing where exactly he is now. There is stuff in his house that he knows for sure is in his new house half a world away.

And then he is accosted by two more people. One a teen a bit older than him, and one a foreign kid. All of them are being chased by a futuristic black van with The Driver in it, who seems to be interested only in tracking them down and attacking them with something like a lightning bolt generator, but worse. Not human at all. And why do the youngsters have lights under their necks?

The secret lies, it seems, in the prison behind the house. A place the Driver seems to be protecting. And all that the kids have on their side are theories and raw courage.

Have you ever felt that your life is not what you want? And there should be More Than This?

Read it. It's good. Though the resident teen is reluctant to further ruin the end of childhood, and refuses to touch the book with any bargepole. I hereby declare 'stupid teen' a tautology.

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