In case you hadn’t realised by now, Patrick Ness is one of my absolute favourite writers and with his new book, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, being released in just under two weeks time, I figured now was the right time to tell you all why you should read it, if you haven’t read anything by him before.
The Chaos Walking series
The Chaos Walking is a dystopian trilogy for young adults, set in the fictional town of Prentisstown, New World. Here, everyone can hear each other’s thoughts and the protagonist, Todd, has grown up believing this is normal. That is, until he finds a patch of silence from The Noise and starts to question everything he’s been told.
- The Knife of Never Letting Go
- The Ask and the Answer
- Monsters of Men
- “The New World” (short story)
- “The Wide, Wide Sea” (short story)
- “Snowscape” (short story)
A Monster Calls
Based on an idea from the late Siobhan Dowd, this is a lovely story about a boy who is struggling to cope with his mother’s illness. It follows the same structure as Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with the boy having three tasks/problems to overcome before he can move forward emotionally. This book made me cry – it was sad, but it was enjoyable sad, if that makes sense (?). I read the plain text version of this, but there is a gorgeous illustrated version, with illustrations by Jim Kay, which has been highly recommended by everyone I have spoken to about this book. There is also going to be a film adaptation set for release in October 2016.
More Than This
In the first chapter of this book, the protagonist Seth drowns. Then he wakes up in a place which looks exactly the same as his old home, with one difference: he is completely alone. This is a wonderful, fantastically well-written book, which asks so many questions about what it means to be alive, among other things. This is my favourite of Ness’ books and is one of my go-to recommendations in my job as a children’s bookseller.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Every book has a hero, a chosen one with special powers or an epic destiny to fulfil. This books is about those characters who are not the heroes, but whose stories are equally as important. The Rest of Us Just Live Here will be released in the UK on 27th August 2015.
Note: Ness has also written books for adults: Crash of Hessington, The Crane Wife and Topics About Which I Know Nothing (short stories), but having not read these, I will not be including them in detail in this post.
Why I love Patrick Ness:
I first came across his work when More Than This was released, but it was another year before I finally found time to read it (I had not been reading much for pleasure during my degree). After falling in love with the complexity and depth of his characters and narrative, I quickly moved on to The Chaos Walking Trilogy and finally read A Monster Calls earlier this year.
One of the most common ‘complaints’ I hear from adults about young adult fiction is that is is all conceptually simpler and written in more basic language than adult fiction. As an adult who essentially reads YA and children’s books for a living, this irritates me greatly*. Unfortunately, my job also requires me to be diplomatic… therefore, my answer to these people is nearly always to place one of Ness’ books in their hands in an attempt to prove them wrong. Ness writes boldly and honestly about a real human experiences and he is not afraid to tackle the big issues, covering topics such as gender, sexuality, mental health, the environment, war, love, death, religion… the list goes on. What I like most of all, though, is that he never appears to set out to write a book about a topic; rather, his books are about the characters and everything else is written in the context of their thoughts and experiences. As someone who loves character-driven narratives, this is a big plus for me.
Patrick Ness writes beautiful stories about wonderfully flawed characters and if you haven’t read anything by him yet then you’re missing out big time!
For more on Patrick Ness, see George Lester’s video below:
*I admit that some YA is both conceptually and linguistically simpler than the majority of adult fiction, however, I could also say the same in reverse about some adult books. Blanket statements suck…