It's an average day in the United States. Mothers and fathers are driving home from work, kids are in their rooms laughing and playing, and the sun is beginning to disappear in the horizon. Everything is as it should be, except for one small house in one small town, where Seth has just told his parents that he liked men, and their entire world fell apart. Pictures of Seth’s boyfriend and him in bed had surfaced on Twitter, and the harassment at school was hardly bearable by itself, but piled on top of the verbal abuse from his parents, he simply could not find a reason to live. Long after the sun had set in his small town, Seth leaves his house and walks into the ocean, gets pulled under by a current, hits his head on a rock, and dies. Or so he thought.
Seth wakes up in his old house in England, and assumes he is in a hell specifically for him (even though being left naked and alone in a parallel universe in which there is, quite literally, no food besides spaghettios would be hell for anyone), but then he hears a van. And then he sees a figure slightly resembling a man in a black body suit. And then the figure starts getting closer to him. And then he is being pulled and pushed and screamed at, and before he can comprehend the events that have gone down in the past 45 seconds, he realizes he is in a house, with a quiet and intuitive little boy, and a sassy black girl. Better yet, they explain to him that no, this place is not a personalized hell, it is, in fact, Earth. The life he had been living was in a computer. The relationships he had formed had not been real. And he did not actually die. He is alive and breathing and has a second chance, something he didn’t even know he wanted until he had it.
Through multiple near-death experiences, Seth and his new acquaintances learn more about each other while unraveling the mystery of the computer-programed life they had just awoken from. Although I could include spoilers and describe the events that close up this phenomenal book, that would completely ruin the point of you reading it, and forming your own opinions about More Than This by Patrick Ness! This book was extraordinary enough to allow me to pull many different ideas from the middle and conclusion of the book, without giving anything away.
In his confusion and disembarkation from his home, Seth commits “suicide." Of course his intentions to kill himself were genuine at the time, but after receiving a second chance to live, he realizes how much he wants to make things right. He not only realizes that he wants to make things right, but he also realizes how completely out of control his life is. He is abandoned on Earth while everyone except his two friends and him are living fake lives in a computer (What happened to living on Mars?). He has zero idea how he will continue living with limited food and supplies, he has zero idea if there are more men in black body suits chasing him, and he is completely clueless about what his second chance has in store for him. So many of us living on this Earth forget to live. We get so caught up in what will happen tomorrow, next week, or next year. If that person we love will ever text back, or if you really did fail that Trig test, and forget to enjoy the moment we are in right now. You will never have a chance to witness a second, a minute, or a day exactly like the one you are experiencing right now. You will never have the opportunity to fix something in the past or prevent something from happening in the future. What happened yesterday happened yesterday, what you make of tomorrow will be whatever you decide to make of it then, at that moment in time. But ‘now’ is so special. You pick and choose, and close doors so you can open new ones, all in the blink of an eye, without paying much attention to it. When all of that is taken away, you find a special way to appreciate the ‘now’ we are all lucky enough to experience. Seth took his chances (*cough* *cough* possible foreshadowing) because he knew that tomorrow would come eventually, but that today will never come again. So stop waiting for that text message to appear, and stop beating yourself up for thinking of a better come back forty-five minutes after the dispute. Go appreciate the stars that will only be aligned exactly like that today, go live for today, and not for tomorrow. Trust that no matter what happened or is going to happen, there will always be more than this.
If you guys insist on spoilers and would like a more descriptive plot summary, here are some fantastic book reviews! Also, at the very end of the book, Patrick Ness writes something we all should live by, and I didn’t include it in the original review because it slightly gives away a big development in the story, but it is a fantastic quote and something we should all live by. Let me know if you are intrigued by the book, and how you choose to live in the moment!
“Here is the boy, the man, here is Seth, being laid back gently into his coffin, the hands of his friends guiding him into place.
He’s uncertain what’s going to happen next.
But he is certain that that’s actually the point.
If this is all a story, then that’s what the story means.
If it isn’t a story, then the exact same is true.
But as his friends begin the final steps, pressing buttons, answering questions on a screen, he thinks that what is forever certain is that there’s always more. Always.”