More Than This by Patrick Ness

more than this

More Than This by Patrick Ness

Released September 10, 2013.

After Seth drowns, bones smashed against rocks, muscles clenching in the icy water, he wakes up.  He is naked except for some bandages and very weak, but most disturbing, he is back in England at his childhood home.  A home that contains many of the worst memories of his life, except for his most recent ones.  There is no one else around, even the insects are silent and no birds or planes fly overhead.  Seth is completely alone in a world that is covered with dust and dirt.  Seth can’t sleep either because whenever he does, memories sweep over him, specifically ones that he would prefer to never remember and it’s as if he was living them all over again.  Is this the afterlife?  His own personal hell?  Seth has to first figure out how to survive and then start finding answers.

Ness creates a world, a hell, an afterlife, a future that is breathtakingly haunting.  It is profoundly empty, amazingly personal, and intensely confusing.  Readers who enter this book will be taken on a journey that is astonishing.  It is a puzzle that they will solve along with Seth and the answer will be astonishing.  I don’t want to give things away because the book is such a journey to the truth.

Ness writes powerfully of first loves, suicide and having to life with one’s decisions.  Seth’s death in the water is described in great detail, each moment captures, each pain explored.  As the memories flash into his head, the reader starts to understand what drove Seth to kill himself but also other deep truths about Seth and his life. 

Complex, gritty and profoundly beautiful, this book is a wonder of writing.  It is beyond inventive, taking readers to a place they never expected to find.  You are in the hands of a master storyteller here in one of his best books yet.  Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from ARC received from Candlewick Press.

Review: Picture Day Perfection by Deborah Diesen

picture day perfection

Picture Day Perfection by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Santat

Picture Day is a day when you want to take the perfect picture.  That doesn’t come easily!  In fact, the boy in this book has been planning his Picture Day for months.  But nothing seems to be going well at all.  First is the bedhead hair that makes his brother laugh, then his favorite shirt is stained and smelly, and that all leads into the incident with the syrup at breakfast.  The day continues this way and when he gets to school he starts to get into trouble with how he is acting.  He won’t practice his smile, choosing instead to stick out his tongue.  He sends paint flying during art.  He doesn’t get a comb to fix his hair.  In the end though, it all comes off just like he planned, or does it?

Diesen has a wonderful kid-like sense of humor that is very evident throughout this book.  Her timing is great, the story will have everyone laughing.  Readers will figure out what is really happening in this book just as the author decides to reveal it.  Then the entire book still makes sense, but in a different way.  It makes for a great read.

Add in Santat’s vibrant and equally funny art and you have a real winner.  Santat captures the funniest moments in the text with great style.  The image of the syrup incident is my favorite but I also love the picture taken at the end of the book. 

Funny, pure silliness and just right for the start of a new school year.  Try this one out with older elementary students since they will love the humor too.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams Books for Young Readers.