Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker Books
Release Date: August 7th 2015
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
The Rest of Us Just Live Here is the first Patrick Ness novel I’ve read, and I loved it. Ness has taken the common trope of the Chosen One and shows us another side to the story; instead of seeing the journey the Chosen One takes, how they defeat the evil and save the day, we see the story from the eyes of the bystanders. We follow the kids who aren’t chosen; who live in the same town and who end up becoming collateral damage when the Chosen One fights the Immortals, the vampires, the ghosts, the Chosen Ones have to fight.
But even though they aren’t Chosen, and the issues Mikey, Jared, Henna and Mel face aren’t going to prove deadly to the whole town, they are still important to face and overcome. Mikey is struggling with the return of his anxiety and OCD; he gets caught in ‘loops’ that he can’t get out of. His sister Mel is adjusting to normal after a near deadly arrhythmia caused from starving herself. Jared is keeping secrets from his friends heritage and Henna is trying to adjust to the idea of going with her parents to a war-torn country after she graduates so they can do missionary work.
For Mikey, Jared, Mel and Henna the story starts when one of the indie-kids is killed. Soon dead animals are coming back to life, the whole police force have glowing blue eyes, indie-kids are dying, explosions are taking out normal civilians.
The indie-kids seem to think what happens is something that only affects them but Mikey feels differently; he and Henna are involved in a car crash with a terrified deer that later comes back to life, he and his sister’s are caught in the midst of an explosion while at a concert, and he’s targeted by the police and fears for his life when he sees their eyes glowing blue. All Mikey wants is to confess his feels for Henna, get past his anxiety, and graduate high school before the indie-kids blow it up again.
Mikey is a brilliant character, and my favourite person to read about in this book. Suffering from anxiety, brought on again by thoughts of leaving for college, leaving his sisters and friends, and his mother’s race for congress. He finds himself trapped in loops, washing his hands again and again trying to get it ‘right’, caused by his ever increasing anxiety. His struggle feels very real and very desperate, he knows he’s getting trapped but he’s powerless to break free.
None of the issues any of the characters face are lightly portrayed. From Mikey’s anxiety, to his grandmother’s Alzheimer’s, to his sister’s bulimia, all of them show the darker side to the disease and Ness doesn’t shy away from showing the highs and lows of suffering from something like they are.
He doesn’t have a close relationship with his parents; his mother mainly seems concerned with climbing up the political ladder and her upcoming campaign and he rarely sees his alcoholic father. However even Mikey’s parents have their own motivations. They may not see eye to eye but his mother seems to wants to make the world a better place for her children and sees running for congress as the best way to do that. She understands what Mikey is going through she still remembers the events that happened when she was a teenager involving the indie-kids.
Instead of relying on their parents Mel and Mikey rely on one another. Mikey still remembers nearly losing his sister a few years ago and he constantly worries about her, but another part of him can’t see past her strength and it makes him almost blind to the scars she has from her experience. With their father out of the picture and their mother more concerned with her campaign Mel and Mikey have learnt to rely on one another before relying on their parents.
The relationship between Mikey, Mel, Henna and Jared is wonderful to read. They are all an obviously tight knit group but none of them are perfect; they fight, they get jealous and mad but all of them still come back to one another. All Mikey wants to do is spend time with his friends before they all go their separate ways for college but things happen between them that he is powerless to control.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a brilliant story with real and complex characters. It could be set in any town, in any city, in any country. Other than the indie-kids and their fight against the Immortals there is nothing that sets apart the world Mikey lives in from the real world. The problems he faces are ones anyone could face; his fears leading up to graduation, his questions about whether he’ll stay in touch with his friends, even the massive gap between himself and his parents.
As well as seeing Mikey’s journey and his changing relationship with his friends we also see the indie-kids story as highlights at the start of each chapter; but only enough to emphasis the impact their actions have on, not only Mikey, but the rest of the people living in their town.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here has a lot of mixed reviews but for my first glimpse of Patrick Ness’s work I loved it. If the Chaos Walking trilogy, which is on my to-read list for this year, is anything near as good as this book it’s sure to be one of my top-reads of 2016.
What did you think of The Rest of Us Just Live Here? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.