Published by HarperTEEN on August 27th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Magical-Realism, Young Adult
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What if you aren’t the Chosen One?
The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?
What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.
Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.
Even if your best friend is worshiped by mountain lions.
Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.
This is my first book by Patrick Ness and it was seriously so good I have to prioritise reading some of his other works now! Its a hard book to classify as its really a contemporary novel but has a definite vein of paranormal running through it with much talk of “the chosen one” and other paranormal scenarios.
The book centres around a group of totally normal teenagers who are hanging out for graduation. The protagonist Mikey worries a lot, and is from a family with a lot of societal issues including a sister who previously suffered from anorexia and his dad is still suffering from a large problem with alcoholism. While Mike has his own battle with OCD and anxiety to contend with, things aren’t looking too badly for him as he has a solid best friend, is in love with the figurative girl next door, Henna who he’s never had enough guts to ask out and also has two totally awesome sisters whom is he very close to.
While this group of kids are trying to get through the final remaining weeks of school and graduation, there is a second story that is fleshed out at the beginning of each chapter and alluded to within the main story. This is the story of the “indie” kids. Its the story that would normally be the story arc of your YA book while characters like Mikey get a bare mention or are edited out entirely as irrelevant to the plot. This story is about immortals taking over their little USA town and contains death, betrayal, great love, and major paranormal battles. In this novel however its confined to probably a few pages at most and only really gets a mention when it affects our main characters who constantly wonder if they are going to get to graduate before the school is blown up again, or which indie kid is going to go missing next.
In all honesty not much actually happens in this book, but I don’t really see that as a bad thing, its heavy in all the right ways on the dialogue meaning you get great character insight to this coming of age story. The main thing the book does focus on are family and friendship.
There is a lot of family drama for Mikey to sort out and his family are all central characters to the book. Mel is his older sister who nearly died from an eating disorder a couple of years prior meaning she now is finishing school in the same year as Mikey. These two are incredibly close and there is an undercurrent of worry and sadness that they are both off to colleges on other sides of the country after they graduate. His younger sister Meredith is upheld by the family as the only one not to be a total screw up and is a bit of a child prodigy. All 3 siblings are very close with both Mel and Mikey being very protective over her and taking her out for dinner and to her millions of additional afterschool activities. Their parents are definitely considered disappointments to them. Their mother is running for senate and is seen as very tough and uninterested in anything that isn’t in her best interests and their father is an alcoholic who can barely keep it together for important events and photo ops.
Friendships are also important and a large element of this novel. Mikey’s best friend Jared could have been an indie kid but is so desperate to be normal he does everything he can to keep away from it all. Jared is so grounding to Mikey and is a large help with his anxiety and OCD. This friendship has been through a lot and always held together though Mikey has constant anxiety over how much he needs Jared while not feeling like Jared gets anything from him in this relationship. Continuing on the great levels of diversity in this novel, Jared is also gay and this is central to the story though these two are not in a relationship. Mikey is also totally in love with his friend Henna and spends large portions of the book trying to get up the courage to take things to the next level. Its complicated and messy and this romance is really real and sweet.
It was such an easy read and even though not a lot happened to these totally average everyday kids I wanted to know more about them and was really sad when the story ended. I also loved how they did flow through and alter the course of the indie kid/immortal drama weaving the two stories together at the end. I simply loved this story, it was unique, diverse and beautifully written. Considering how dialogue focused it was I have high hopes its picked up and turned into a film – I would love to see it on screen.
A big two thumbs up and 5 stars from me – I’m off to find a copy of More Than This now!
Also last sidenote, make sure you read the acknowledgements I loved finding out about how some of the characters got named, and his friend’s business cards gave me a giggle 🙂