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Here is the boy, drowning.
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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.


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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.
  • After the End: At some point roughly eight years or so before the story begins, people began uploading their minds to a simulated world to escape the horrible existence reality was becoming due to various wars, epidemics and economic decline. It was intended to be a temporary solution at first, but more and more people began following suit, until before long everyone in the world was in the online world - leaving the real world an abandoned husk. It's this world that Seth finds himself in after a malfunction causes him to wake up from the simulation instead of dying.
  • Beautiful Void: The story takes place in a town with no inhabitants except Seth and later Regine, Tomasz and the Driver.
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  • Bi the Way: Gudmund, who shows interest in and has sex with Monica even while being in a secret relationship with Seth.
  • 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.
  • Book-Ends: Seth pleads desperately for his life both near the beginning of the story (as he drowns) and near the end (as the Driver is seemingly killing him).
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Seth attempts to do this while showering outdoors in the rain, but it's implied that he doesn't get very far due to his current situation. As it turns out, Regine and Tomasz were spying on him at the time, and they were too embarrassed to introduce themselves to him after accidentally intruding on his moment of privacy.
  • 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.
  • Driven to Suicide: Seth, after learning that Gudmund had been sleeping with Monica behind his back.
  • 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 being the biggest issue in his life.
  • The Grim Reaper: The Driver is explicitly compared to Death (without the scythe) by Tomasz and Regine as it hunts down people mercilessly and kills them. As it turns out, it functions more like a brutally-efficient caretaker, tasked with returning to the simulated world anyone who escapes. Of course, in the case of escapees such as Regine, it returns them to the moment of their deaths, effectively killing them regardless.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: As Regine is being placed back into the simulation, she gets forced to relive the moment of her brutal death at the hands of her stepfather over and over. Seth is able to track her down in the massive room full of coffins only because of her screams.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: A substance referred to as "Lethe" is used to alter the memories of people who enter the simulated world, tricking them into thinking it's reality. Even after escaping to the real world, Seth has trouble recalling everything about his life before the simulation due to the effects of the drug.
  • 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 (where H immediately tells the speaker not to call him Harold.
  • 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?
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: The town Seth finds himself in is completely abandoned, with everything covered in a layer of dust. Outside the town is worse still, the landscape little more than a burned-out wasteland.
  • 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.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Once Seth discovers that people can re-enter the simulated world at a specific time, he decides to return to the moment before his death and avoid killing himself. Ultimately, his plan is to try and bring people out of the simulated world and restore the real one.
  • Survivor's 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 Un-Favourite: Seth's mother dotes on his younger brother Owen and largely ignores Seth. Seth believed for most of his life that this was because she saw him as being responsible for Owen's kidnapping, but discovers later that it was most likely due to residual memories of Owen's real-life death that were left over after entering the simulated world.
  • Wham Episode: In a book that's full of revelations and twists, the beginning of Part 2 qualifies the most.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Gender-inverted by Regine's stepfather, an alcoholic who beat her and eventually caused her death.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Monica cheats on her boyfriend H with Gudmund, not knowing he was also in a relationship with Seth.

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