Have I talked about my love for Patrick Ness? I can’t remember how I first stumbled across The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, but it grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let go for the next three years. I cried SO HARD, dear reader. (Sidebar: I don’t know why this seems to be a requirement, but no Young Adult fiction review seems complete without a reference to crying.) Then I experienced the beautiful A Monster Calls while my grandfather was dying. It was… fairly traumatic but it spoke to me so completely in a way that little else did at the time. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Patrick Ness a few times too and he is a very cool dude.
I took a while to get to More Than This. I think it was because I didn’t love The Crane Wife as much as I hoped I would (don’t get me wrong! It was still good!) and I was scared it would happen again. But it sure didn’t. More Than This is everything that is amazing about Patrick Ness’s YA fiction. In the opening chapter, sixteen year old Seth drowns (such a visceral thing to read) only to wake up in what seems to be an abandoned version of the town he lived in as a child. Something really bad went down there. Actually something fairly bad went down just before Seth died. But every time he comes close to figuring out what might be happening BOOM it’s another Patrick Ness twist to keep you hooked. This book was full of beautiful and scary moments. I don’t want to give too much away but it was an intense, bittersweet, troubling and beautiful book. There’s not much in the way of neat endings but there’s plenty of fascinating and deep thoughts.
Meanwhile Vivian versus the Apocalypse (a loan from the lovely Veronica, who coincidentally cries a LOT in YA books) was gorgeous in an entirely different way. In the near future, a weird capitalist sect of Christianity is gaining power with their leader predicting a nearing apocalypse. Vivian has always been a good and obedient daughter but she can’t go along with her parents’ newly conservative, religious behaviour. However when the apocalypse seems to arrive and her parents are sucked into the sky, Vivian and her best friend, the spiky but charismatic Harp, pick up a cute boy and go on a road trip to California to look for answers. It’s a mature and realistic look at teenage friendship, love and family dynamics. My favourite thing about the book was not stalwart Vivian or soppy Peter but Harp. Damaged, angry, passionate, confused Harp. The way she muddles through her apocalypse definitely spoke to me.
So forget the teen angst and dystopia novels (actually never forget the future dystopia novels) these are my favourite YA books in a while.