More Than This - Patrick Ness
I'm crying as I write this. Suicide trigger warning for the actual review, and book triggers to follow.

As someone who has been in some pretty dark places myself, I feel as though this book is a personal letter to people fighting depression, suicidal thoughts, or any kind of hardship disguised as a YA fiction novel. Patrick Ness doesn't communicate this through blatant dialogue or some preaching speech tacked on at the very end, but he lets you know by making you experience Seth's journey. Understanding how Seth's attitude changes from only focusing on how hard life seemed for him to realizing, "I wanted so badly for there to be more. I ached for there to be more than my crappy little life. And there was more. I just couldn't see it."

That's exactly what it's like and how it feels.

It's beautiful that Patrick Ness included characters like Seth, Regine, and Tomasz (and even Seth's parents), who were each fighting something different in their own ways.

Okay, I'll start the actual review, I guess. I should begin by saying this book is intensely triggering, but the characters talk about these experiences (because what's triggering is mostly in flashback scenes) and how they have affected them. I can't begin to explain how important that is. These things aren't thrown in for dramatic effect or for shock value. They mean something. However, it's better to be safe than triggered, so here's the list:

-suicide
-domestic abuse
-homophobia
-fat shaming

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, if I were to describe this book in one sentence, it would be: wait, I wasn't expecting THAT. Everything is twists and surprises, but it doesn't get exhausting. It feels like this entire book was almost an experiment. Every time I finally felt comfortable with the pacing or the concepts or the world, the entire novel would shift on me, and I didn't know where I was anymore. It wasn't annoying or too confusing to continue; it was exciting and something I've never experienced before.

Patrick Ness was a genius to write this in three parts, because each part seems almost like a completely different genre of book. The first part is like a post-apocalyptic story. Until the last page or so, Seth is the only character. Sure, there are other characters interacting with him in flashback scenes, but he's the only character in the "present." He dies, wakes up in an unfamiliar place, and tries to live in it and figure it out. It's almost like the game Amnesia: the Dark Descent (shh, allow me this bit here), where the protag is bumbling around, confused and frightened, reliving these painful memories, and then suddenly the the monster shows up. And it's the worst experience ever because he's been alone the entire time leading up to that point.

The second part is more like a sci fi novel, and I don't want to delve too much into this one, because I don't want to spoil it for anybody. What I will say is that it's like a sci fi novel you think you're familiar with, but Patrick Ness keeps you from being too comfortable. He always will. Don't try to think you've got things figured out. He'll just laugh at you, I'm sure.

The third part is more similar to the second than the first, but it seems more like a coming-of-age novel than anything with Seth's growth and the way he accepts his situation.

And that ending! As I said, don't try to think you've got things figured out! There isn't a definitive "ending" here, but it didn't annoy me as much as most open endings do. The whole book is open for each reader's personal interpretation, and I think that's beautiful, because I think this book in general is very personal. It also allows people to supply their own ending, depending on who they are and what they've learned/needed from the book.

A major reason this book is so dang successful in connecting with readers is the characters, I think. Because each of them have their own major obstacles to overcome and pasts to accept, SO many people who feel unrepresented or who don't feel included in real life can relate to these main characters (who are minorities or deal with experiences that people in similar situations can connect with). The protagonist, Seth, is gay; Regine is a heavy black girl who openly and vocally challenges black stereotypes; Tomasz is a Polish immigrant who speaks broken English and deals with prejudices of his own. And this is all just surface stuff, who they are goes so much deeper, and it's heartbreaking how these characters can relate to so many different people. I'm trying not to project too much of my own experiences on this . . . I'm trying. Continuing on . . .

These characters become literallythe oddest trio. It's evident in how they interact with each other, too, but that of course makes for the most interesting interactions. I honestly believe these three are the most beautiful and wonderful characters I've read in a long time. They make the book work--the book is literally shaped by them (and Tomasz is a shining beacon of light when everything goes dark. I will love him forever!).

Anyway, read this book. Read it.