A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies.Then he wakes, naked, bruised and thirsty, but alive. How can this be? And what is this strange, deserted place? As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this after life?
I received this book from Walker Books for an open and honest review.
I had heard a lot of great things about this new novel from Patrick Ness and, being unfamiliar with his previous work, thought I would give a new author a go. In a nut shell… this book was modern, mesmerising and masterfully written!
Again, as with all my favourite YA novels, this book throws the reader straight into a scene of panic and terror with it’s opening chapter:
“Here is the boy, drowning. In these last moments, it’s not the water that’s finally done for him; it’s the cold. Even when he can catch his breath in the few terrified seconds he manages to push his face into the air, he is shaking so badly he can barely get half a lungful before he’s under again.”
It is not until chapter 5 that we find out the name of this mysterious boy, who thinking he has died, shockingly wakes up in a deserted street. A street in England. A street he recognises from his past but lacking in any human life. Seth finds himself wondering if he has woken up in hell. “Is this what hell is? Trapped forever, alone, in your worst memory?” As Seth tries to come to terms with what has happened he experiences a number of ‘flashbacks’ to life before he woke up. It is during these flashbacks that the author, Patrick Ness, cleverly draws in the reader as he drip feeds information about Seth and his brother Owen. It is made clear early on that something terrible happened before the accident and it is these subtle hints throughout that had me gripped and desperate to know more.
“He remembers the shock of what awaited him like a punch to the gut, telling him just exactly what the hell he had woken up to.”
As the novel progresses, Seth meets two other children by the names of Regine and Tomasz. It becomes clear that all three children are connected in some way and they quickly begin to realise that all is not as it seems. Why can’t they remember their life before now? “There was more to your life and you’ve forgotten it.” The second half of Patrick Ness’ book moves towards the Sci-Fi genre and, as a reader, you must have a very open mind and not ask too many questions. The ending is undetermined and sets the novel up perfectly for a sequel. (I for one am hoping there is one!)
In this novel, Patrick Ness made very good use of past and present tense and the reader was often taken back to conversations Seth had in the past before he drowned. As with most YA novels, the chapters are very short and with a cliff hanger at the end of almost all 83 chapters it was near on impossible to put down! I would best describe this book as a tense, Sci-Fi thriller and it is thoroughly captivating throughout.