Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker Books
Release Date: 27th August 2015 (UK) & 14th October 2015 (US)
The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a novel all about “What if you aren’t the Chosen One?” The book centers on a group of teenagers that, rather than trying to save the world from the next apocalypse just waiting around the corner, just want to go to prom and make it through graduation. Each chapter begins with a small summary of what the ‘chosen ones’ or ‘indie kids’ are up as they try to save the world, but for the most part we follow Mikey and his friends as they navigate their last few weeks of senior year. This is a very character driven book as opposed to plot-driven, which are my favourites! And despite the fact that most of the hardcore action takes place in the small summaries that begin the chapters, I never felt bored.
As always, Patrick Ness’ writing was great. His writing just flows out so easily and makes it easy to read but also hard to put down. I read this book in about three sittings which is quick for me. It is told for the most part in first person, but at times also shifts to the second person to address the reader directly, and so it feels very personal as Mikey tells you his story.
I also really appreciated the world building in this novel; whilst it is set in a somewhat contemporary modern setting, there are other, somewhat more mysterious and supernatural elements to this book that, whilst on the fringe, are explained throughout the plot without much info-dumping.
Due to this book being more character driven than plot driven, the characters in this book were all really fleshed out and very three dimensional. I found Mikey personally to be very relatable but he was also a very complex and flawed character, with serious jealousy issues. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him for some time, but the more I think about it, the more I warm to him. I really enjoyed the other characters in the group, particularly Jared and Mel. Not all the characters were always very likable but I felt that they were very realistic and I could see their motivations behind the way that they acted once I got to know them. There was only once character who I felt wasn’t as dimensional as some of the others, but I also felt like we didn’t get a very clear view of her due to the narrator.
One of my favourite things about this book though was the gentle and playful way it poked fun at a lot of YA tropes, current and previous. It didn’t feel like it was looking down on or insulting these tropes though – and the ones it did make fun of a little bit I totally agreed with.
Another of the things that stood out for me with this book was the way it dealt with a variety of mental illnesses. Two of the main characters in this novel deal with mental illness throughout this novel, but their illness never became them or defined them. As someone who has dealt with mental illness, I felt it was handled in a very truthful way that I respected.
I will note however that issues surrounding OCD, eating disorders and alcoholism are dealt with in this book so if you are very sensitive to these things, then I would take the time to investigate more picking this up.
Overall I really enjoyed this. It was quick, and funny but also serious and took an interesting idea and handled it really well. The characters all felt like people I knew and could be friends with and I’m really looking forward to this being released more widely to discuss it with others. Let me know if you’ve read the book or are planning to in the comments below!