Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Posted September 28, 2015 by Stormy in Books / 16 Comments

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

 by Patrick Ness

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Expected Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Length: 336 pages
Publisher:
HarperTeen
Obtained Via: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the final work.
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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.

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Not everyone has to be the Chosen One. not everyone has to be the guy who saves the world. Most people just have to live their lives the best they can, doing the things that are great for them, having great friends, trying to make their lives better, loving people properly. All the whole knowing that the world makes no sense but trying to find a way to be happy anyway.

 Patrick Ness will always be one of my favorite YA authors, partially because of how boldly and courageous his stories often are. A Monster Calls was a book I dearly wish I had in high school and it’ll probably always be my favorite, but The Rest of Us Just Live Here is perhaps objectively his best work yet.

If you’ve ever felt ordinary while everyone else seemed extra special, this book is for you.
If you’ve ever struggled with feeling mundane, this book is for you.
If you’ve ever just wanted to be “normal” while also NOT wanting that at the same time(because humans are complex), this book is for you.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is the story of Mikey and his group of close friends, all just trying to make it to graduation. They’re not interested in the going-ons of the “indie kids”(AKA the kids who are the chosen one, or undercover vampires, or get taken to the underworld, etc.) unless it directly affects them. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is the story of the “normal” people during an urban fantasy book, essentially. In a different book, these main characters would be the stock characters in the background of the biology class or the collateral damage of some sort of supernatural attack. This book tells their story, and it’s a story I think I’ve always wanted to read and didn’t even realize it.

Despite the weird going-ons in the background of Mickey’s life, his wishes and desires are pretty normal. He’s getting ready to go off to college, so he’s dealing with all the things that come knowing his friend group is splitting up soon. He’s also crushing hard on his friend Henna and desperately wants to take her to the prom, while also dealing with his OCD and anxiety, as well as how his mother’s political campaign puts his family directly into the spotlight.

Mickey may be the main character, but the secondary characters are just as wonderful and fully realized as he is. There wasn’t a whole lot of time spent on it, but I loved the glimpses of Mickey’s relationship with his sisters and his entire friend group. They all stole my heart in the end.

One thing that’s not clear from the summary is how much of this book deals with mental health, and let me tell you, the way Ness handles it all is a breath of fresh air. Mickey struggles with OCD and anxiety, and his sister is in recovery from an eating disorder. At one point, Mickey is put on medication, and it isn’t demonized in the slightest. Mickey has his own struggles with attending therapy, but it’s never portrayed negatively.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here really is about the extraordinary in your ordinary life. I won’t get into it for spoilery-reasons, but everything about this book is refreshing, including the outcome of Mickey’s crush on Henna. The entire book is this weird blind of hyper-realistic life set amidst the most fantastical setting that impacts the main characters but does not define them. It is the story that would happen to 95% of us if we lived in the world of a paranormal YA novel.

There’s also sort of this tongue-in-cheek humor about YA in general. The beginning of each chapter includes a few short paragraphs about what’s happening in other parts of the novel, meaning the story of the “indie kids” who are trying to defeat the new evil with the blue light and the weird deer. It’s a summary of what this book would be if it *didn’t* focus on the ordinary people in the story. There’s several YA tropes at play in these summaries, and Ness pokes a bit of fun but never mocks. I think anyone with a love of YA will potentially adore this book in the same way I did.

 

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here innovative and sometimes a little funny and sometimes a little poignant, and even when it involves mysterious blue light and slightly-demonic deer it always feels true in every way that matters. 5/5 cupcakes.

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5 Stars

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16 responses to “Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

  1. Ahhh, I’m so excited for this gorgeous blue book. I just finished Chaos Walking, which is probably my favorite overall, but A Monster Calls is the first Patrick Ness book I actually loved (I hated The Knife of Never Letting Go first time around), and it’s definitely my favorite of his standalones. How do you feel about the upcoming movie?

    • Stormy

      I am. . . apprehensive/excited about the movie, but that’s pretty much my response to ANY movie adaptation. Of course, I always plan to see them and rarely do. I still haven’t seen the Gone Girl or If I Stay movies, and I really wanted to see them both. I didn’t hate The Knife of Never Letting Go, but it wasn’t my favorite, and I think it’s my *least* favorite Patrick Ness book.

      • Agreed. I tend to dread my favorites being turned into movies. I am curious to see how The Scorpio Races turns out, though, because I can’t imagine Maggie Stiefvater letting anyone destroy her baby. I haven’t seen either of those movies yet, either. I’m glad to know The Knife of Never Letting Go wasn’t just me. I liked it a lot better the second time, but the first time it was the vernacular that really ruined it for me. Same thing with Vengeance Road, actually.

        • Stormy

          Yeah, there’s always this mixture of fear & excitement. I have high hopes for The Scorpio Races, partially because I think it’s a pretty cinematic book to begin with, and I think it would translate well to film. Yeah, the vernacular in The Knife of Never Letting Go was quite painful at first. Though, I’m reading Vengeance Road right now and I’m surprised that the dialect isn’t bothering me at all. . . probably because I know some people who speak in a dialect that’s not terribly far off from old-west dialect(my grandfather, for instance, would have totally started multiple sentence with something like “I reckon we’ve got ourselves a good one ‘ere”, or something similar).

          • That’s interesting about Vengeance Road. The “I reckon” lines didn’t bother me as much as “I’s” and the poor grammar outside of the quotes. I’m glad it’s working for you! I’m still in love with the cover, even if I didn’t care for the book.

            • Stormy

              Well, I ended up giving it 3 stars, so I did like it. . . but a lot less than everyone else seemed to. I just never cared about the characters. The cover is amazing, though! I love it so much.

              • Yes, that’s exactly it. I probably could have gotten past the vernacular (as I did with Chaos Walking) if I cared about anything else in the book. I hope the cover inspires some similar ones. Did you read Walk on Earth a Stranger? I thought that was a much better YA western.

    • Stormy

      Yeah, I’ve loved everything that Patrick Ness has written! A Monster Calls is my favorite, but I’ve enjoyed all his books.

  2. I started reading this book, and I got distracted, but I am going to go back to it soon!! I think the idea of it is SO unique and cool. Although when I started it, it took me a minute to figure out what in the world was going on (I didn’t read the blurb at all before starting… ooppps!). Who hasn’t felt ordinary in a sea of specialness?? A great reason to read the book 🙂

    • Stormy

      A Monster Calls is AMAZING. It’s still my favorite, but I think this one might come close. Though I’ve never read a Patrick Ness book that I disliked!

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