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“I’ve always, always dreamt of writing a book where the main character wakes up and realizes he’s the only one left on the planet,” said Ness, whose wish will come to fruition with the fall release of More Than This, being published simultaneously in the U.K. and U.S. in September. Here’s a first look at the U.S. cover.
The stand-alone novel features a boy who drowns in chapter one but awakens in chapter two in the English town where he had lived before moving to America. The old neighborhood is barely recognizable – covered in dust and void of life. Ness says there’s a deliberate mystery to the plot.
“I don’t want to give away too much but there is an ambiguous element throughout. Is this a real place, or is it a kind of afterlife? The question remains open,” he says. “I tried to play with dystopian tropes to see what other metaphorical and allegorical uses they could have.”
“Patrick has outdone himself,” said Candlewick editor Kaylan Adair. His new novel, she says, “manages to be both deeply moving and terrifically funny all while tackling questions about life, death, and the meaning of reality.”
Ness will make a pre-pub appearance at the ALA annual conference in Chicago this June, and will embark on a five-city fall tour with stops in Washington, D.C., New York, St. Louis, Chicago, and Milwaukee. Meanwhile, the film adaptation of the first title in the Chaos Walking trilogy – The Knife of Never Letting Go – is currently in development by Lionsgate Entertainment, producers of The Hunger Games, with a screenplay being written by Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
Collectively, the Chaos Walking books have made Ness one of the most decorated authors of YA literature in the U.K., winning the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Costa Children’s Book of the Year Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize and the Carnegie Medal. A Monster Calls, adapted by Ness from an unfinished outline written by the late writer Siobhan Dowd, was one of last year’s most acclaimed titles, becoming the first book ever to win both the Carnegie and the Kate Greenaway Medals. Ness has become his own tough act to follow but feels his latest novel is “the most hopeful thing” he’s ever written.
“I think it’s incredibly hard for a teenager when things are tough to get over the feeling that this is all there is, that things will never change,” Ness says. “I wanted a character who could explore that idea, look past the fatalism to try to find out what more there is than what he at first thinks there is.”