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Literature: More Than This

Here is the boy, drowning.

More Than This is a 2013 Young Adult novel by Patrick Ness. The main narrative is about Seth, a teenaged boy who dies and then wakes up to find himself in a strange, deserted world. This is interwoven with the secondary plot that follows Seth's life up to the moment he drowned one winter day in the ocean, with some philosophical musings on stories and life along the way.

More Than This reveals most details of the story as you read. It is recommended that you finish the book before reading the examples below.


Tropes:

  • A Glitch in the Matrix: According to Regine's theory, a Tap on the Head causes one and sends you to the real world instead of killing you.
  • Beautiful Void: The story takes place in a town with no inhabitants except Seth and later Regine, Tomasz and the Driver.
  • Black Best Friend: Defied by Regine. She calls Seth out on thinking that everything revolves around him and that Regine and Tomasz are some sort of props to help him on his journey.
  • Dead All Along: Owen never came back from the kidnapping in reality. The version Seth remembered was just a simulated program.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • He went though a lot, but what finally drove Seth over the edge was finding out Gudmund was sleeping with Monica and was never exclusively "his".
    • Seth's mother couldn't get over Owen's death, choosing a simulated reality over accepting it.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Tomasz gets annoyed that Regine and Seth treats him as the Funny Foreigner/Tag Along Kid even after he saves them from certain death multiple times.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Seth, Regine and Tomasz all died as children, so it's not so surprising that they had tough lives. As Tomasz comments: "Are we not some funny kind of group? Child abuse, murder and suicide."
  • Gayngst: Downplayed with Seth. People around him don't react very well to finding out he is gay, but that's far from his biggest problem.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Eventually Seth remembers that the "real world" in which he died was a simulation built as an escape from the actual real world.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Pointedly averted for Regine and Tomasz. The narration notes the phonetics of their names when they first introduce themselves.
  • Not Quite Dead: The Driver, as Seth predicts. Even though he is rammed by a van and burnt in a fire, he comes back one more time.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Seth's friend, H. His real name is presumably "Harold", but it comes up exactly once.
  • Ontological Mystery: Seth has no idea why he ended up in an abandoned town (specifically, the town he used to live in when he was little) after he died.
  • Riddle for the Ages: A fair few mysteries are left unsolved: What caused the fire that burnt down the area on the other side of the train tracks? Who or what is the Driver, and why did he save Seth's life, after seemingly trying to kill him?
  • Running Gag: Tomasz pulling off a Big Damn Heroes moment. It's so convenient and happens so often, Seth starts to suspect there is some sort of narrative intent.
  • Sadistic Choice: The prisoner made Seth choose who (out of him and his brother) was to be taken as hostage.
  • Survivors Guilt: Seth feels responsible for his brother Owen's kidnapping, especially after he finds out Owen was killed by the kidnapper.
  • This Is Reality: Seth notices all the tropes in his story, and starts to wonder if the "real" world is actually real. Regine argues against the idea, especially when Seth suggests the Driver might come back to life like a horror movie villain after he was killed. He's right.
  • Token Trio: Seth the white male protagonist, Tomasz the Polish boy, and Regine the black girl.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Regine tells Seth she used to be a nice person, before her mother married an abusive man.
  • The Unfavourite: Seth's mother dotes on his younger brother Owen and largely ignores Seth.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Gender-inverted by Regine's stepfather, an alcoholic who beat her and eventually caused her death.

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