“You’ve just got to find a way to live there anyway”: the dystopian chronotopes of trauma in Patrick Ness’s More Than This

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


YA dystopian fiction has proven fertile ground for the exploration of traumatic events experienced by young people undergoing rites of passage. This paper employs Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotope (literally, “time space”) to examine the representation of trauma in Patrick Ness’s YA novel More Than This (2014), which follows the protagonist Seth’s journey back into an estranged and depopulated version of his childhood home. As in classic trauma theory, the novel contains two traumatic episodes: a primary trauma (the ‘wounding’ of the protagonist’s brother), which took place in England in the past; and a secondary trauma (his own apparent death), which takes place in the United States in the present. Ness portrays this dual trauma in parallel narrative strands, which intersect and fuse into one deeply alienating, puzzling, and complex whole. In the process he explores a range of traumas affecting young adults including suicide, child abuse, homophobia, and murder. Like Seth himself, the reader has to decode the temporal-spatial indicators to discover the source of Seth’s trauma and trace his journey from acting out to working through his traumatic experience.
Period16 Dec 2017
Event titleIdentities in YA Narratives
Event typeConference
LocationNorthampton, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionLocal