Written by: Patrick Ness
Published by: HarperTeen
Release date: October 6th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult
Source: ALA Annual 2015
Buy: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads
What if you aren’t the Chosen One?
The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?
What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.
Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.
Even if your best friend is worshiped by mountain lions.
Okay, I’m just gonna come out and say it — I don’t think it’s possible for Patrick Ness to write a book that doesn’t connect to my soul.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here appears to be, on the surface, a pretty simple concept. In this world, Chosen Ones are everywhere. These “indie kids” are the heroes of YA fiction, busy saving the world while mostly ignoring the collateral damage and “normal people” in the process. Within this world, The Rest of Us Just Live Here asks a simple question: What about the rest of us? What about the normal kids on the periphery of these Chosen Ones’ stories?
They’re too cool to ever, ever do anything like go to prom or listen to music other than Jazz while reading poetry. They’ve always got some story going on that they’re heroes of. The rest of us just have to live here, hovering around the edges, left out of it all, for the most part.
Having said that, the indie kids do die a lot. Which must suck.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here is presented in a super cool way. There’s a short epigraph at the beginning of each chapter, outlining the basic plot points of the “teen has to save the world from imminent destruction” story, which we’ve all seen before in some form. The rest of the chapter goes on to tell us what’s happening in the real story — what’s happening in Mikey’s life and his friends’ lives.
(By the way, those epigraphs, and Mikey’s and his friends commentary on the “indie kids” and their escapades, are so perfect. There are so many hilarious, tongue-in-cheek asides relating to the indie kids… so many lines that had me laughing because they were so accurate. I’d quote some lines, but honestly, you don’t want to read them until you read them in context. They are too perfect.)
So — a world where Chosen Ones abound, but the main characters are the normal kids. Does this sound incredibly cool and awesome, as a concept? It is. And one thing I can tell you about Patrick Ness’s books, at least for me, is that not only do his books always sound awesome, but Ness always delivers. It’s just a fact. (Or, at least, a fact when it comes to his books and my reading taste.)
Patrick Ness + awesome-sounding concept = quality book
It’s science, okay? Deal with it.
Another thing that I love about his books — and which, of course, The Rest of Us Just Live Here totally nails — is that Ness makes his characters relatable. Especially important in this book, though, is that — while this is a book about ordinary kids — it’s so obvious that what these kids are going through is extraordinary. They’re living their own lives, saving their own lives, making important and life-changing decisions, getting to know and learning to love themselves — and it’s all presented in a way that makes you more interested and more engrossed in their own lives than in anything that’s going on in the periphery — namely, the actual Save The World stuff that’s normally the focus of the story.
None of us says anything for a minute, then Jared asks, “Was that Finn?”
“Which Finn?” my sister says. “Aren’t all the indie kids called Finn?”
“I think there are a couple of Dylans,” Henna says, “and a Nash.”
“There are two Satchels, I know that,” I say. “A boy Satchel and a girl Satchel.”
Not only does The Rest of Us Just Live Here have a fantastic concept and characters all on its own — this would have been enough for me to love it — but the main character, Mikey, is one that I literally found myself crying over, because I related to him so much. Stop it, Ness. Just stop. (Don’t stop.)
“. . . a big part of that worry is that, no matter what group of friends you’re in, no matter how long you’ve known them, you always assume you’re the least-wanted person there. The one everyone else could do without.”
Mikey’s character arc is just… I can’t even talk about it. It’s amazing. Mikey is fantastic. But also, he has one of those arcs that if I say too much about it, I feel like that would be spoiling the journey. Just… just read the book, really.
Finally, something that Ness does so well is how he leaves endings open enough to be realistic, while still making the book feel whole and complete where character arcs are concerned. I think this is one reason why I love his books so much — as a character-focused reader, those are the arcs I care about, those are why I read, and they are always handled so flawlessly in his books.
I just… I feel like I’ve been a bit less details-focused in this review than in many others, but I think there’s a very good reason for that — this is one of those books that you do not want to be spoiled in any way for, even vaguely. If you go into it having read the blurb (and obviously, if you think the blurb sounds good), you’re good. You don’t need more information.
But if you want more information: Amazing concept, flawless execution, fantastic characters, beautiful writing — The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a book that will keep you glued to its pages not because of the excitement and explosions (though there are those), but because of the ordinary, extraordinary lives it depicts.
Also, the US cover glows in the dark.
I’m just saying.