Author: Patrick Ness
Release Date: 27th August 2015
My Rating: 4/5
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.
Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.
In A Nutshell:
The Rest of Us Just Live Here is the story of the kids who aren’t the ones chosen to save the world whenever a supernatural phenomenon occurs. It’s the story of characters who show great loyalty and love towards their friends and demonstrate that there are many different definitions as to what makes someone a hero. You don’t have to be everyone’s ‘Chosen One’, but you can be someone’s.
In the interest of full disclosure, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is my first foray into the writing of Patrick Ness. I know, I’m a little behind the times and my friend has been trying to get me to read the Chaos Walking trilogy for the last 6 years. But that’s another story. My point is, I had high expectations because of how well regarded Ness is amongst bookish people, but I had no idea as to what style of writing I would encounter. And I was a little confused after reading the first chapter. But after finishing the second chapter, I realised what was going on, remembered what the book was about, and continued on to read the whole book in one sitting. Below is the letter I received with my ARC explaining why Ness wrote the story.
At the beginning of each chapter is a very brief summary of what is happening in the lives of ‘The Chosen Ones’, which in this story, is highlighted as always being one of the ‘indie kids’. The paragraph is summed up in a very tongue-in-cheek manner, which had me asking what in the world was going on and thinking these characters were just weird. However, the rest of the chapter then gets into the real story, which is what is happening in the lives of the rest of the kids in town.
These are the kids who know something odd is going on in their small town but have their own problems to deal with and all they really want to do is get through the rest of the school year, graduate and get out of town. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is the story of those kids, the ones who see the great big flashes of light or the odd behaviour exhibited by the possessed. They remember the brief zombie invasion a few years back and they recognise the world is just that bit weird, even though most of the town just prefers to ignore what is going on around them. It’s the untold story of what happens to everyone else while the world is ending.
The book is based around Mikey, his sister Mel, and friends Jared and Henna. Their story starts with them lying in the field behind Mikey and Mel’s house, debating the validity of the way your stomach flip flops when you see someone you like, and questioning what you feel and how you act on those feelings. Essentially, discussing the way we make choices in life. It’s a relatable situation experienced by everyone at some point in his or her life and it is a good way to start off the story by showing that these are just your average teenagers.
This is a book for those who are sick of all the ‘Chosen One’ stories out there. Who want to read about the ‘normal’ kids who just want to get through the year, having survived the soul-eating ghost phenomenon the previous year. In this case, our characters have their own troubles to deal with, problems that make life a struggle without some supernatural entity trying to end the world. Mikey and Mel have a passive, alcoholic father and a political, power-hungry mother. Mel is recovering from an eating disorder that nearly killed her which was triggered by their mother and the Press after a publicity photo-shoot. Mikey is trying to overcome his anxiety and OCD, which is once again making an appearance since their mother’s latest announcement.
And as for their friends, Jared is trying navigate the possibility of a male relationship in their small town as well as understand what it means to be the God of mountain lions, the result of having a God for a grandmother, just another side effect from the bizarre things that happen. Meanwhile, Henna is trying to convince her missionary parents that running off to a war zone is not the best idea for a family vacation before college.
There is a big focus on loyalty and helping each other through life because sometimes, friends are the only ones you can turn to/count on. This focus also applies to the brother/sister relationship between Mikey and Mel and how caring and encouraging they are of each other. They are one of my favourite depictions of siblings found in a YA novel.
Throughout their last few weeks of high school, a few home truths are revealed about friendships, relationships are salvaged, and lives are put in danger when the latest supernatural phenomenon occurs. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a page-turner with characters you will love and just want to see succeed.