The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Page Count: 336
Original Publication Date: 2015
Genre(s): Young adult, Fantasy, Contemporary
What happens when you aren’t the chosen ones? When you’re not Harry Potter, or Katniss Everdeen, or Tris Prior? What happens when you’re just one of the normal people, living your life while all the danger and excitement happens around you? This is a story about those kids. While the indie kids are busy defending the world from the latest paranormal disaster, Mike is just trying to live his ordinary life. He may not be “the chosen one,” but there’s still a lot to worry about: graduating high school; getting the girl of his dreams to fall in love with him—or even just kiss him; surviving his mom’s political campaign and all the drama that comes along with it; learning how to cope with his anxiety and OCD. That kind of stuff matters, too, ya know. People just don’t care about it when the world is blowing up.
I really need to stop saying Patrick Ness is one of my favorite writers… I love A Monster Calls and More Than This, but now both this novel and Release have severely disappointed me. I thought the premise of this novel was interesting: what happens to the ordinary people when extraordinary things are happening to someone else? A whole lot of regular-ass teenage stuff, that’s what. The novel is told in first-person POV from Mike’s perspective. MC Mike is just trying to live his best life. It’s all very ordinary but still stressful and sad and happy, just like everyone’s lives. Except there’s also paranormal stuff going on that everybody knows about, but can’t necessarily do anything about. Except the indie kids. But Mike isn’t an indie kid. He’s just a regular kid who sometimes gets caught in the messes that the indie kids and evil beings create. But still, he manages to survive and keeps on living his normal life. The end.
Okay. Not really. But also, yes, really. This book is basically just a regular ol’ contemporary fiction novel, but with a little bit of fantasy thrown in, though it mainly resides in the periphery. Each chapter opens with a small paragraph about the events surrounding the indie kids. The rest of the chapter is about Mike and his friends and family. The cast of characters was brilliantly diverse and unique, as well as flushed out. I especially liked Mike, problematic and dickish as he is… Honestly, the most powerful part of the novel is when he’s opening up to his therapist. Extremely raw, emotional content that made me feel both anxious and sad. I related. Hard. And it greatly affected me. I love when a book can do that.
Unfortunately, the rest of the novel falls short. Though the characters were flushed out and the dialogue (as always with Ness’s novels) was realistic, the majority of the writing felt flat and the story felt rushed. Most people are more interested in the indie kid paragraphs than the rest of the book, but I was uninterested in almost all of it, which made me really, really sad. I really wanted to like this book. I hate that I didn’t. Maybe I’ll give it another shot, but probably not. It just didn’t live up to the hype. What I will say about Ness’s writing, though, is that he writes brutally honestly about teenagers and the way they think and feel, and I will always love that.
I won’t give up on Patrick Ness! I have faith in him still. But I just wasn’t taken with this one. It started off on the wrong foot, and I can’t decide if it got better as it went along, or if I just got used to/tolerated it. Unsure, and unimpressed.
Thanks to Epic Reads for providing me with a free eBook copy of this book! Being an Epic Reads Insider definitely has it’s perks.
–“Sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.”