Author: Patrick Ness.
Published: September 10th 2013 by Candlewick Press
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.
This book starts with an intense scene. You are immediately plunged into the story: a boy is drowning and he dies. But, he wakes up in the middle of the street. It’s an abandoned city and he soon finds out that he is back in England in the house he grew up in. When his life was happy; before the incident around his little brother.
The city is abandoned. There are no people, hardly any animals and Seth finds himself alone and confused. He has the vague idea that he is in Hell and the whole situation is just so bizarre. Together with Seth, we have NO CLUE what is going on. During his search for answers, he teams up with two other kids who save him from a dangerous and mysterious man. This part gave me the creeps. Regine and Tomasz share their suspicion about this strange world with him and the whole idea is rather mind-blowing. I adore Tomasz and his brave, quirky actions.
What I also liked were the flashbacks to Seth’s past in the form of dreams. It was interesting to see piece by piece what happened and why he grew up to be such a troubled, sad boy. There were several times where I wanted to hug him and tell him everything was going to be all right. So when it comes to characters, Ness did a great job in painting them. They felt realistic and I was scared and anxious together with them. I was rooting for them and the mystery and weirdness was fascinating and annoying at the same time.
This book would have been so much better with a more conclusive ending. I just felt I missed something. Perhaps I just don’t get the whole meaning of this, but I wanted more answers. Better yet, I want to have one burning answer to a question I won’t tell, because it would spoil the whole book. I’d say, this is definitely something you have to see for yourself.