The Rest Of Us Just Live Here
by Patrick Ness
Published on : August 2015 (Walker Books)
Genre : YA, Contemporary, Fantasy
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.
I was excited to read this book. I’ve read two of of Ness’ books (A Monster Calls and More Than This) and I loved them both. There’s something strange but beautiful in his stories and characters.
In this book we have the “indie kids” and the ordinary kids. Indie kids are the “Chosen Ones“. They have special abilities and are too cool to go to prom. They are ones who fight (or fell inlove with) the vampires and soul-sucking ghosts. They defeat the monsters and save the world. Meanwhile, the ordinary kids are the ones who are living their simple lives. They’re not the chosen ones. They are the ones in the background. The bystanders. In this book they are a group of teenagers trying to make the best of their remaining days together before heading off to college.
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.
The concept of this books is very clever and interesting. We are used to reading fantasy books featuring bad-ass protagonists together with their bad-ass friends fighting the enemies. But this book introduces us to our main character, a normal teenager named Mikey who has anxiety and OCD. His older sister has eating disorder and his gay best friend Jared is a half-God. Also, Mikey has a not-so-secret long time crush on Henna. The post-graduation blues together with the issues in his family and Henna leaving for Africa are making him more anxious and feel like he is once again stuck in a loop.
Each chapter starts with a brief description of what is going on about the indie kids who are trying to stop yet another invasion. I honestly had quite a hard time to get in to the story and I had to read the first chapter twice. It already includes quite a lot of names in the 1st chapter and it’s confusing for me. But once I got in, I wanted to just continue reading it. I could totally read this book in one sitting if I didn’t have to do some adulting stuff or procrastinate.
Now the thing is, I didn’t love this book as much as I loved the other two books I’ve mentioned earlier but I definitely enjoyed reading it. The strangeness in the story is, of course, present in this book as well as the superb writing style. It’s straight-forward and easy to read. Some of the things that I loved in this book are the multicultural and LGBTQIA characters, their friendship, humour and most especially, the author’s portrayal of mental illness.
One of my favorite chapters was Mikey’s visit to his therapist. This was the highlight of the book for me. It was quite refreshing and I admire the author for handling the subject really really good.
Feelings don’t try to kill you, even the painful ones. Anxiety is a feeling grown too large. A feeling grown aggressive and dangerous. You’re responsible for its consequences, you’re responsible for treating it. But Michael, you’re not responsible for causing it. You’re not morally at fault for it. No more than you would be for a tumour.
I couldn’t give a perfect 5 to this book because I felt like there’s something lacking in the story. But I did love the ending and the character development. This book tells us or rather reminds us that we don’t need to be a hero to save the world. And we don’t need a superpower to help others especially ourselves.
Also, I read from the Author’s Note that he was part of a fund-raising drive for the Red Cross called Authors for the Philippines. It was set up shortly after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines in 2013. He auctioned off the chance to have the winner’s name in this book. Two of the characters names in this book are actual people. (Just the names.) I love Patrick Ness now evenmore!
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 things that are great for them, having great friends, trying to make their lives better, loving people properly. All the while knowing that the world makes no sense but trying to find a way to be happy anyway.
This book kept me reading. It’s very entertaining, funny and inspiring. I highly recommend this whether you’re an indie kid or not.