The Rest of Us Just Live Here
By Patrick Ness
Summary: A new YA novel from novelist Patrick Ness, author of the Carnegie Medal- and Kate Greenaway Medal-winning A Monster Calls and the critically acclaimed Chaos Walking trilogy, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a bold and irreverent novel that powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.
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 worshipped by mountain lions.
Source: I purchased a paperback
I have mixed feelings about this book. It was such a great idea and I loved so many aspects of the story, but the actual reading of it was kind of dull and I didn’t truly connect with the characters.
The book is a weird contemporary that includes the existence of the supernatural in order to make a point. The book is titled The Rest of Us Just Live Here and it’s about being just a normal person who isn’t the next hero in any tale, who doesn’t care to be, and just wants to get through life as easily and normally as he can. The chapter headings contain the supernatural tales of the “indie kids” who battle the supernatural forces to save the day, while the rest of the chapters focus on Mikey and his merry band of friends as they struggle to survive the normal battles, like awful parents, disorders, hormones, and car accidents.
It’s so hard to rate the book because it’s so freaking brilliant. The author makes such great points about what it’s like being an average person in a world full of superheroes, whether it’s just the movies or books we read or the people we look up to or in the case of the character in the book, the indie kids actually saving the day every time you turn around. And it pokes fun at the heroes in today’s books with their weird names and how teenagers saving the world is so normal (because it totally is in all the YA novels, where the fate of the world is in the hands of one girl named Satchel or something). I loved how brilliantly funny it was, while also talking about something real at the same time.
While I appreciated those aspects, the actual plot wasn’t as awesome as I’d hoped. Honestly, and I hate to say this, it felt like Mikey was just another Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Jared was Patrick and the rest of the group could totally be matched with other Perks characters and it would’ve fit just perfectly. And while I love The Perks of Being a Wallflower and similar books, The Rest of Us Just Live Here didn’t really bring a whole lot more to the contemporary YA table aside from some nice points about the rest of YA and a message some of us need to hear sometimes. And I think the book didn’t put as much effort into building the actual characters like some of it’s YA counterparts and that’s where it ultimately failed. I cared about Charlie in Perks more than I ever did about Mikey.
Your enjoyment of the book mostly relies on how much you need a book like this and how closely it relates to your life. If you need the reminder that you don’t have to be the Chosen One to live a fulfilling life, your friends will pick you up and they care about you as much as you care about them, and you have a lot to offer the world, then please read this book. Because you’ll love it and you’ll really walk away from it feeling like you should. You do matter. But if you picked up the book without necessarily needing to hear that, it likely won’t really resonate with you because you can’t escape into the characters like other amazing YA type of message/coming of age novels. The world and character building are lacking in this book, so unless you personally relate or need the message and will find ways to relate because of that, it falls flat.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here was short enough to be enjoyable, but it was kind of disappointing despite the genius of the whole book. I appreciate it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without its flaws. I’m rating it three stars. As I said before, if you need a book like this to remind you that you matter, it’s a must read. But if you’re not in that kind of place right now, as a story itself, it’s just not all that great aside from the brilliant parts. The chapter headers will totally make you laugh out loud if you’ve been exposed to much YA fantasy, though, so it’s worth it just to read through that and how much the author totally pokes fun at it all.