Author: Patrick Ness
Performed: by Nick Podehl
Released: by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio, November 2013
Category: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
'A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies. Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive. How can this be? And what is this strange deserted place? As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?'
Seth wakes up not knowing where he is or how he got there. He can’t remember anything…except dying. That, he does remember. But he couldn’t have died, could he? He was here, wasn’t he? The opening pages are so descriptively graphic and yet leave room for doubt as to what actually happened. Things get quite frightening for Seth as he realises how familiar, and yet at the same time, different, this place is. It seems deserted, almost post apocalyptic. The terrible feeling of aloneness and the devastation around him are penned in such a way as to be tangible.
'...it’s also a world that only seems to have him in it, so how real can it be? If this is just a dusty old memory that he’s trapped in, maybe it isn’t really even a place at all, maybe it’s just what happens when your final dying seconds turn into an eternity.'
The so very sad flashbacks of Seth’s memories piece together the events that lead to his ‘death’, if that’s what it was. His relationships with his parents, his brother, Gudmund and his friends capture the uncertainty and confusion of youth.
Everything in this world in which he finds himself is always on the edge of unknown, what’s real or not real. As the story unfolds Seth finds he’s not alone after all, there’s Regine and Tomasz, great characters who have also have stories to tell. Their search for answers, of which there are no easy ones, and to make sense of where they are and how they got there leads them into unprecedented and bizarre situations. Then they begin to discover the shocking truth. There’s lots of action, mystery, suspense and a very ominous antagonist they have to deal with, several times.
The story is challenging in the extreme, it’s intense, dark, sad but at the core is hope, and I felt like I was being pulled one way, thrown back and pulled in a completely different direction again and again. It’s imagination running riot and running through is the premise that whatever is going on there must be More Than This.
It raises some questions about life, relationships, of how they’re dealt with and the consequences of the decisions made. There are so many layers in this book and it leaves a lasting impression.
'Haven't you ever felt like there has to be more? Like there's more out there somewhere, just beyond your grasp, if only you could get to it…'
And the ending.......thought-provoking and ambiguous. The writing is amazing and the story so well crafted and totally gripping.
Nick Podehl did an impressive job bringing the story to life and giving the characters their individual voices and personalities.