This was Chantel’s pick for me this month. I chose to go into this completely blind, actually. All I needed to know was that it was by Patrick Ness (since I did love A Monster Calls). Chantel knows me well enough, so I trust her when she recommends a YA book to me. You have teen love and rejection and loss. You have death and domestic violence. You have the search for identity. All of those are very YA themes that annoy the shit out of me, but Ness balanced them in a way that made this feel more like an adult novel, with the mystery and pacing of a sci-fi and action story. It’s masterfully balanced.
To be honest, this book is hard to rate and discuss since so much of what I want to write about happens later in the book and are definitely spoilers. It’s a very odd book, a mix of sci-fi and contemporary YA to make this weave of wondering about reality. This book is mainly about reality and what we consider “more”. Because, what does that even mean? More means different things to different people and can be different for various situations.
All of the characters in this book want more. They think that there is something better out there for them. They seek it out without thinking about what they have at that moment. It reminds me so much of our culture. When I was spending time with a friend in NYC, we decided to go to brunch. Now, I’m a person who’s happy to settle. I’ll search around, but if something feels right, I don’t care about price or anything like that. On the other hand, my friend searched around for an hour, trying to find the place with the best brunch deal. Fact checking websites, going through multiple lists of brunch places, scouring for information about the deal, etc. It was insane. In the end, after so much arguing and me just caving in to whatever place she wanted, we had a mediocre meal. All because she was searching for the best deal since she was convinced there was something “better”.
We constantly believe that there’s more when we should be happy and grateful for what we have. Strive for better, of course. Get out of shit situations if you’re in one. But, try to keep in mind a feeling of gratitude. That’s something all of the characters struggle with and really made this book deeper and more poignant than I thought it would be.
My only critique is that I hoped for more of a wallop by the ending. From my last experience with Ness, I was bawling and couldn’t stop bawling. Then when I finally stopped, I tried to explain the book to my mom and just started up again. This book just didn’t have that. I was moved by the stories, but not to the point of really connecting and resonating with the characters.
This book is deep and heavy, yet extremely action packed and intriguing. The only reason it didn’t get five stars is because it lacked the final, emotional oomph.