More Than This



Gripping story of a teen who confronts his own private hell.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers will see how, in a deserted world, three teens learn to survive.

Positive messages

Seth, who blames himself for his brother's tragedy, matures enough to believe in himself, show courage, gain a will to understand and forgive, and a desire to live. "If there really is more to life," he says, "I want to live all of it."

Positive role models

The three major characters all show grit and strength. Seth is brave and loyal to his new friends. Tomasz is wise and incredibly resourceful. Regine is tough but caring.


There's a great deal of violence, primarily on the part of the three teens who must battle with the "Driver" but also in scenes of their tragic memories. There's a kidnapping, a suicide, and child abuse. The so-called Driver is an electronic creature that resembles a faceless human. It's programmed to hunt down the fugitives and destroy them. It also burns property and injures the teens as they frantically try to flee from capture.



Some references to sex and a few explicit scenes between two teen boys, which are handled tastefully.


"S--t," "bitch," "d--khead," "Jesus" (used as a swear word), "goddammit."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One character smokes, and the teens drink small amounts of beer and wine.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that More Than This by two-time Carnegie Medal winner Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls, the Chaos Walking trilogy) is a challenging, provocative, dystopian novel that raises questions philosophers have debated for centuries: What is existence? What's real? What's fact and what's imagined? The novel has a lot of violence, including a kidnapping, a suicide, child abuse, and a violently destructive electronic being that must be battled. There's also a love affair between two teen boys with a few explicit sex scenes that are handled tastefully, and some strong language ("s--t," "bitch," "d--khead," "goddammit," "Jesus" used as a swear word).

What's the story?

An English boy named Seth drowns and, strangely enough, wakes up -- naked but alive. Where is he? What's happened? MORE THAN THIS shifts between what seems to be Seth's own private hell and his past life in England before he moved to the United States. At first he seems to be totally alone in an abandoned and destroyed world. Then he meets two other teens, and together they try to solve the mystery that surrounds them -- and to avoid capture by the menacing Driver, who perpetually hunts them.

Is it any good?


Award-winning author Patrick Ness's treacherous journey of three teens in torment is certainly worth reading, reflecting on, and discussing. More Than This is tense and often confusing as it shifts between what Seth thinks is hell and what he thinks is his past: "Every time he blinks he sees his memories before him, so clear and vivid it's as if he's switching back and forth between this world and that one." As he slowly begins to comprehend what's happened, the anguish he faces and the determination to conquer it mounts.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about dystopian novels. Why is the theme of a dystopian future so popular in books and movies? What other dystopian novels have you read?

  • How does the media treat homosexuality? Compare how it's treated today with 15 years ago.

  • What do different cultures and religions believe happens when a person dies? What do you believe?

Book details

Author:Patrick Ness
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Candlewick Press
Publication date:September 10, 2013
Number of pages:472
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Educator and Parent of a 14 and 15 year old Written bycindymccollum May 5, 2014

My son loved the story.

If a review says sex scenes are "explicit" and yet "tastefully done" - beware. Those two descriptions do not go together. The sex in this book is not at all vital to the story. Sadly, my son loved the story but couldn't finish because he was so disgusted by all the sex in the book.
Adult Written byreubli August 12, 2014

Immediately engaging - but sexually graphic in parts

This book has an intense beginning that makes it quite gripping and has a feel very much like the movie, The Matrix. Overall, my son and I liked the book and characters, but it is not appropriate for young kids or tweens due to some sexually explicit scenes between two male characters - much more explicit than one would expect in a book being targeted to a general teen audience.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Kid, 12 years old August 15, 2015

Flawless and Intriguing

My twin sister was harassing me for months to read this book. Knowing that we both have very different tastes, I refused. But recently, I started becoming interested in it. So, I started reading it - my sister was ecstatic - and am enjoying it thoroughly so far. The plot so far seems to be flawless and also intriguing. Although, I have one downside. Splitting a book into small parts and chapters, making choppy is a negative, personally. But, I'm not exactly very far through, so I'm not exactly one to judge.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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