The Rest of Us Just Live Here
by Patrick Ness
Expected Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Length: 336 pages
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.
View at the Traffic light:
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.
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.
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.