REVIEW: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Publication: HarperTeen on Aug 27th, 2015
Paperback, 336 pages
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary/Fantasy
The cover seemed more like something from middle grade, not YA with the cartoonish character across the front. It’s colorful, but not particularly eye grabbing. The publisher’s written blurb was compelling enough that I was interested in picking up a copy. I’m glad I did. I found The Rest of Us Just Live Here to be a fresh take on the bloated “chosen one” YA trope.
Have you ever wondered about the other kids at Sunnyvale High? You know, the kids that weren’t staking vampires or fighting the newest evil to come out of the hell-mouth? Those were the kids that just wanted to go to prom, graduate, and maybe make out with someone before they went off to college. Those kids. Well, if you have wondered about them, this book is for you.
Patrick Ness’ story, The Rest of Us Just Live Here delivers an honest and satirical look at “the nobody kids” that blend in the background of the hero stories. The story follows group of close-knit friends before they leave a small, northwestern town to start their adult lives. Mike and his friends don’t care about saving the world, they just want prom dates. As long as they get through five more weeks, they can walk across the stage and receive their diplomas, that is as long as the school isn’t blown up first. Ness flips the “chosen one” genre on its head and executes a refreshing tongue-in-cheek “unchosen ones” parody.
I thought that Ness’ pacing of both the story and the characters was spot-on. His usual engaging and humorous writing complemented the blend of contemporary YA and fantasy. That being said, this is not a plot-driven book. The plot occurs in the background, unfolding in a tongue-in-cheek paragraph at the beginning of each chapter.
The character development was fantastic. I was impressed in the diverse cast of friends, as well as the accurate and compelling portrayals of mental illness, including anxiety, anorexia, and Alzheimer’s. Some might say that this book edged on boring and the characters weren’t particularly compelling. I disagree. I think Ness purposely wrote everyday characters with everyday worries and concerns. This is a book about the mundane. No one likes everyone all the time, and Ness did a fantastic job demonstrating that.
Overall, I thought that The Rest of Us Just Live Here was a great YA book. I’m glad I picked up a copy and would recommend that you others give it a shot.
Recommended for: those who like John Green and other authors that emphasize characters and personality over plot. However, if you’re interested in the adventures and larger-than-life characters, I’d avoid The Rest of Us Just Live Here.