My first thoughts as I began to read this book was, ‘this is weird’ but despite thinking that, I couldn’t put the book down, every time I tried I would pick it back up again, and it wasn’t long before I realised that this book is ‘oddly brilliant’.
I saw ‘The Rest Of Us Just Live Here’, whilst I was casually flipping through a book magazine, and I then casually pointed it out to my mother, who kindly bought it for me as a Christmas present. I didn’t really know what to expect as I hadn’t really expected to get it at all, but this was the best, casually-chosen, book choice I have ever made!
Where do I even start with this one? Patrick Ness has basically managed to write a compelling and unique story, but from the point of view of the really minor (barely significant) characters, found in your usual YA Fiction. Instead of having special main characters who are usually cool, beautiful, and have some sort of hidden talent/power. Patrick Ness has flipped the concept on it’s head and given us the ordinary, normal characters, who have their own issues, but are just trying to live their lives as best as they can. These characters are not the names that history will remember but rather, the names that history will undoubtedly forget.
Each chapter starts with a little excerpt telling you what the ‘usual major characters like in other fiction’ are up to, in this book they are called the ‘Indie Kids’. However the rest of the chapter focuses on the relatively ordinary lives of the characters Mikey, his sisters Mel and Meredith, and his friends, Henna and Jared.
In a world where major past events have included vampires, alien invasions and epic battles where the Indie Kids save the world over and over again (A not so subtle, yet highly entertaining reference to general YA fiction -C.L.). This story starts with Mikey and his friends sitting in a field, talking about their stomach’s, love, and homework, when two Indie Kids (Finn and Satchel) run past into the surrounding forest, and a strange blue pillar of light erupts moments later from the spot where the Indie Kids probably ran to. Mikey and his friends however, are unconcerned with what the Indie Kids are up to, the Indie Kids are always causing trouble, and they die often too. Mikey and his friends (except Jared) know they aren’t special or ‘the chosen ones’ and they don’t pretend to be, instead they just want to make it to prom and then graduate from school, since after graduation, they will be parting ways. Whilst the chaos is hidden and happening around them, Mikey learns that Henna, who he has fallen in love with and will be heading to Africa after they graduate, thinks another guy (Nathan) is hot, and worst of all, Nathan has just transferred to their school and he might be an indie kid.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here is written from Mikey’s POV. He’s a young teenage boy, struggling with love and friendships, and who is just trying to make it through to graduation. He also happens to have some OCD’s, where he ends up getting caught up in loops, such as tapping things repeatedly, counting things repeatedly, to washing himself repeatedly, etc. As the reader, you join Mikey as he tries to navigate the complicated teenage world, come to terms with his emotions, and deal with his OCD’s, whilst trying to stay out of the ‘Indie Kids’ world. However, Mikey’s best friend Jared, is a homosexual, demi cat-god, and is trying his best to be ordinary (though he is followed around by cats a lot and can heal minor injuries). After a car accident caused by a deer, and when Nathan starts spending more time with their friendship group and acting suspiciously, and even Jared appears to be keeping secrets. Mikey is left a little battered and confused. This wasn’t how he had envisioned the last few weeks with his friends before graduation, and his OCD’s seem to be getting worse.
*End of Spoilers*
You’re drawn into Mikey’s relationships with his friends, parents and sisters, and each new, emerging detail, pulls you into Mikey’s world. Yes he’s ordinary, but like everyone, he has his own problems too, which is why his character is so relatable, but that doesn’t mean he is bad or boring, there’s good qualities about him too.
Patrick Ness has a witty way with his words, (yes I laughed out loud on a number of occasions -C.L.), and he covers some difficult and sensitive topics with respect and literary grace. This book is just so cleverly written, it is very hard to describe adequately.
I’m definitely adding this book to my imaginary bookshelf in my head (the one I don’t have space or funds for yet -C.L.). It deserves to be there, right next to my other favorites from Neil Gaiman, Isaac Marion, John Green, etc. If you’re looking for a YA fiction, with a unique twist and contemporary style, then this is definitely the book for you. I would also recommend this book to anyone who suffers from, or is interested in mental health, ‘The Rest Of Us Just Live Here’ is a real eye opener with respects to these difficult and sensitive topics.
From The Current Reviews:
The Good: ‘In a nutshell: Another unique and wonderful book from Patrick Ness with an interesting perspective – it’s not the “Chosen One”‘, ‘a realistic novel with a Buffy episode backdrop‘, ‘it’s a refreshing and brilliant read with diverse and real characters’, ‘The original plot, the beautiful writing, the diverse characters, the intriguing setting, the funny dialogues, the mystery, the lessons and insights – All of it – I love them all‘, ‘one of the qurikiest, most bizarre books I’ve read this year‘, ‘moving, funny, and utterly enjoyable‘, ‘Amazing concept, flawless execution, fantastic characters, beautiful writing’, ‘My favorite part of this book has to be how it just pokes fun at all the YA tropes‘, ‘The heart of this book isn’t the story though. It’s the characters and their lives.‘, ‘Ever wondered about the secondary characters within our young adult fantasy and dystopian novels? The adults or the teens who aren’t tasked with saving the world? This is their story‘, ‘This is one of those books that you have to read to fully understand what it’s about‘, ‘Highly recommend this book, if you are sick of the regular YA books and want something totally different‘, ‘This book is great for YA fans as well as fantasy fans because it has a bit of both in it‘, ‘The plot and the writing are eyewateringly sharp and relevant and this is such a clever, funny book that I found myself constantly going, ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ and underlining passages.‘, ‘I adored this due to the incredibly strong voice and excellent characters, but it’s the serious way in which Ness looks at mental health that make me want to push it towards every teen, their families. and everyone who works with them‘… (these reviews could go on forever! – C.L.)
This Book Has Been Compared/Likened To: Book, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford & Author, John Green.
Release date: 27th August 2015
Age Range: 15+
Contains: Mild descriptions of a sexual nature, and also covers mental health.
Genre(s): Young Adult/ Contemporary/ Fantasy/ Paranormal
Awards: (I couldn’t find any mention for this book, but this book should have awards! -C.L.)
About The Book:
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.
Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.
Amazon Kindle Rating: (4.2 Stars)
Goodreads Rating: (3.85 Stars)
Disclaimer: The reviews and opinions above are either from online sources or my own, and have been collaborated together for the ease and benefit of potential new readers. All ratings have been collected from the date of this blog’s publishing and will potentially change in the future.