Awakening inexplicably in the suburban English town of his early childhood after drowning, Seth is baffled by changes in the community and suffers from agonizing memories that reveal sinister qualities about the world around him. By the Carnegie Medal-winning author of A Monster Calls. - (Baker & Taylor)
Awakening inexplicably in the suburban English town of his early childhood after drowning, Seth is baffled by changes in the community and suffers from agonizing memories that reveal sinister qualities about the world around him. - (Baker & Taylor)
From two-time Carnegie Medal winner Patrick Ness comes an enthralling and provocative new novel chronicling the life — or perhaps afterlife — of a teen trapped in a crumbling, abandoned world.
A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this. . . . - (Random House, Inc.)
"He dies." So ends the first chapter of Ness' latest meld of genre fiction and soul-searching prose, wherein 16-year-old Seth violently drowns in the ocean. There is, of course, a catch: Seth wakes up in his former England home, suffering near-total amnesia and covered in metallic bandages. The neighborhood appears long deserted, and so Seth begins to scrounge empty stores for food and clothing. It's when he sleeps, however, that pieces of his past come rushing back: his culpability in the kidnapping of his little brother eight years earlier, his bespoiled sexual relationship with a boy from school, and even hints at how on earth he ended up here. Edging any further into plot is a minefield of spoilers, as the book's chief propulsion tactic is the turning of unexpected corners. Ness' knack for cliff-hangers, honed in the Chaos Walking series, remains strong, while the spare, gradual, anytime, anyplace quality of the story recalls A Monster Calls (2011). Repeated, similar battles with an antagonist feel like a distraction; nevertheless, Ness has crafted something stark and uncompromising. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Ness is in the midst of a major critical and commercial hot streak. An author tour and more will seek to extend it. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews
As the novel opens, Seth drowns; he wakes up in a world like his own, but seemingly without people. He wanders until he finds two other teens and together they try to make sense of their lives, their apparent deaths, and their current warped reality. Ness is a good storyteller and an interesting prose stylist, but the world-building here is too enigmatic.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews
In the wake of The Lovely Bones, a subgenre of young adult novels was born wherein a dead protagonist moves on to the afterlife for the real action of the story, and Ness's latest novel fits neatly into this relatively recent tradition. What sets his apart is that the world-building, rather than becoming increasingly clearer, instead remains an enigma that puzzles and perplexes the characters—not to mention the reader. As the novel opens, Seth violently drowns in the ocean; he soon wakes up in a world like his own, but seemingly without people. Painful memories plague him: the abduction of his younger brother in the distant past and more recent ones of the fallout from his romantic relationship with another boy. He wanders for awhile—a long while—before he finds two other teens, Regine and Tomasz. Together, they dodge the mysteriously dangerous Driver while trying to make sense of their lives, their apparent deaths, and their current warped reality. Ness (the Chaos Walking trilogy; A Monster Calls, rev. 9/11) is not only a good storyteller but an interesting prose stylist, and his latest effort is as provocative as ever. Nevertheless, the gay subplot lacks satisfactory resolution, and the overwritten third-person present-tense narration makes the novel feel more important than it really is; consequently, the audience for this book narrows considerably from Ness's previous work. jonthan hun Copyright 2013 Horn Book Magazine.
Seth, not yet 17, walks into the Pacific Ocean and ends his life. Or does he? He wakes, groggy, in front of the house in England where he spent his childhood, before his little brother, Owen, was kidnapped and the family moved to America. He spends days in a dust-covered, desolate landscape scavenging for food in empty stores, imagining that he's in a "hell built exactly for him." His dreams are filled with vivid memories of his life: his romance with a boy named Gudmund, a photo that's gone viral, and farther back, his inability to keep Owen safe. Seth is rescued by a girl named Regine and Tomasz, a younger, Polish boy, from pursuit by a silent, helmeted figure they call the Driver. Past and present collide as Seth struggles to determine what's real and what isn't, whether circumstances are all of his own doing. He faces doorways everywhere, with genuine death seemingly just beyond, but there are hints of something even more sinister going on. There are no easy answers either for Seth or readers. With a nod to Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Ness brilliantly plays with contrasts: life and death, privacy and exposure, guilt and innocence. In characteristic style, the author of the Chaos Walking trilogy delves into the stuff of nightmares for an existential exploration of the human psyche. (Fiction. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Seth Wearing, age 16, dies in the opening pages of this complex, ambitious novel from Ness (A Monster Calls) and, arguably, that isn't the worst thing that happens to him. After drowning, Seth awakens in the suburban London neighborhood where he lived before his family relocated to the Pacific Northwest. The old neighborhood is now a dust-covered ruin; there is no noise, no electricity, and, at first, not another soul around. Is this hell? A tortured dream? Seth's search for understanding requires Ness to move between the unsettling present and Seth's past, slowly revealing his sad childhood, his awful mother, and the bright spot in his young life—his relationship with schoolmate Gudmund. When even that romance ended in sorrow, Seth grasped for a reason to live. The Matrix-like science fiction elements of the story are somewhat fuzzy, and even the characters continually question the logic of the circumstances they are stuck in. But Ness's exploration of big questions—specifically Seth's yearning to find out if life will ever offer more than the rotten hand he's been dealt—will provide solace for the right readers. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
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School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 9 Up—This haunting and consistently surprising novel raises deep questions about what it means to be alive, but it doesn't try to console readers with easy or pat answers. As the story opens, teenage Seth is experiencing his own death in painful detail. In the next chapter, he wakes up physically weak, covered in bandages and strange wounds, and wonders if he is in Hell or the future or somewhere else entirely. As he tries to survive in and make sense of his strange yet familiar surroundings, he is plagued by intense flashbacks of his life before he died: his guilt over the tragedy that befell his little brother, his burgeoning romance with another boy in his small town, and the events that led to his (dubious) death. Upon discovering two other young people in the blighted place he's landed, Seth begins to learn the Matrix-like truth about what has happened to the rest of humanity, how he can escape, and whether he even wants to. The intense themes in this novel make it more appropriate for older teens, but the language and sexual scenarios are clear, relevant, and neither graphic or gratuitous. A delicate balance between dystopian survival and philosophical grappling means that many different kinds of readers should appreciate the story.—Kyle Lukoff, Corlears School, New York City
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