The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Review

November 5, 2015 2015, 4.5 star books, contemporary, fantasy, Kim, lgbtq, male narrator 16 ★★★★½

The Rest of Us Just Live Here: ReviewThe Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Published by HarperTeen on October 6, 2015
Genres: contemporary, fantasy, science fiction
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
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four-half-stars
A new YA novel from novelist Patrick Ness, author of the Carnegie Medal- and Kate Greenaway Medal-winning A Monster Calls and the critically acclaimed Chaos Walking trilogy, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a bold and irreverent novel that powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

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.

It finally happened. A book was special enough, funny enough, heartfelt enough, and just downright good enough to break the spell. My awful slump might be officially over; and it’s all thanks to Patrick Ness’ sly, hilarious, wry, and absolutely on point observations on growing up and what it means to move on.

What is this book even about? It’s hard to pigeonhole this one into a genre! It’s sort of fantasy, sort of paranormal, sort of sci-fi…but it’s not really any of those things. There are definite supernatural happenings going on in the background. But this is very purposefully a book that is not about those happenings. The point is that there are regular, ordinary (well,for the most part) citizens who are just trying to continue going about their lives, even in the midst of very obvious supernatural turmoil. This book is about the ordinary people who just keep on going. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is the  most contemporary paranormal I’ve ever read.

The introduction of each chapter humorously portrays what is going on in the realm of the supernatural. The world seems to have cycled through vampires, gods, zombies, and other supernaturals already. Each generation in its turn ignores whatever the current pressing supernatural force is. Now we have Immortal Beings taking over human bodies (violently) and seemingly seeking out overall destruction. The intros take a very loving, very meta poke at the “teenagers save the world” narrative. Especially because it’s not our teenagers who save the world. Our teenagers just look on as the indie kids (for some reason indie kids are preferred for supernaturals-it’s part part of the humor) battle against supernatural forces. Our kids have their own very real issues and fears to face.

The characters in this book are just genuinely good people. Narrator Mikey places us amongst a group of best friends in the last weeks of their senior year of high school. This has, of course, all the complications of years of friendship and human interaction can bring. Mike is such a good person that he actually made my heart ache. Mike has OCD, anxiety, and depression. His sister is recovering from anorexia. One could even say that this is an “issue book.” But if this is an issue book, it’s completely different from any issue book I’ve ever read. One which seamlessly blends its “issues” into the narrative and does not make a point of those issues as a “burden.” What I mean is that often in issue books the issue is essentially the big bad of the novel. It has a weight to it; the issue is a monster. But here the issues are just issues. Yes, they’re serious, but they do not define who these characters are. One of the major strengths of this novel is its honest portrayal of mental health. There is a scene where Mikey is in therapy (yes! Actual therapy in a YA book!) that is particularly raw and honest and heart wrenching.

I could see it argued that nothing really “happens” in this book. It’s true that most of the action happens off-screen with the indie kids battling the Immortals. This narrative basically just follows a group of friends winding down their time together in high school. It’s a very internally driven book, rather than action driven. This book is one that is perfect for the character reader. Especially fans of strong friendships, and also sibling relationships. Outside of what’s going on with the Immortal Beings (and this is largely relegated to the chapter intros), the major conflicts of this book are interpersonal and internal. Mikey’s fears are the totally normal fears of feeling like the least wanted in his group of friends and that his crush on Henna will go forever unrequited. I can’t neglect, though, that there may or may not be zombie deer in this novel.  Also, one of the characters is kind of, sort of the God of Cats (this is as awesome as it sounds).

(As a total aside to all of this, as a massive, massive Doctor Who fan I am now even more excited that Ness is helming the new YA spinoff Class. It will undoubtedly be fantastic!)

This is a book about that transition period between high school and college. It’s about acceptance and letting go. The ending is so perfect in how bittersweet it is. There is no “happy ending,” but in life there are no happy endings guaranteed. It’s satisfactorily open ended. You know the sort of book that just makes your heart sort of swell up and feel full of warmth and good things? This is that book.In the end it’s about friendship and how you can choose your family. It’s about being grateful for the love which has been given and received. Yeah, these kids have been through a pretty rough time. But this book is so goddamned hopeful. And, for that, it was perfect.

 

kim teal

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 Responses to “The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Review”

  1. J. Oh

    I’m so happy you loved this! I actually haven’t read any Patrick Ness books yet (I know, for shame), but a literary agent who loves Patrick Ness told me she was really disappointed and couldn’t get into this one, so I was sad because the premise sounds fun. But with your review, I’m confident it’ll be worth giving a shot!

  2. Carina Olsen

    Yaaay :D Gorgeous review Kim. <3 So, so glad that you loved this book. Ahh. You are making me curious about it. But.. well. It doesn't seem like it has a happy romance ending. And if it doesn't end happily with romance, well, then I do not want to read it, lol :D Though you make the rest of it sound so good. Sigh. So happy that you liked it so much :) Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it sweet girl. <3
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Book Recommendation: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

  3. Catherine

    Amazing review Kim! :) Gosh this sounds good! I’m definitely adding it to my tbr mountain. God of cats…count me in! ;]

  4. Sharry

    Aw, this does sound like all kinds of wonderful! I was reading other people’s reviews of it and they, too, were delightfully surprised by this book. I have added it to my to-read list and am excited to see what “contemporary paranormal” reads like :D
    Sharry recently posted…Book Review: Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier. How will a prickly healer hell-bent on vengeance and a hulking brute haunted by nightmares save a Prince and his darling from the sinister workings of an ancient magic?

    • Kim

      I’ll tell you what contemporary paranormal is like: delightful! At least in Ness’ hands. I wish absolutely everyone the enjoyment of this wonderful book. Read it, read it, read it! Then come back and chat with me about how much you liked it. :)
      Kim recently posted…The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Review

  5. Pili @ In Love With Handmade

    YES!!! I simply adored this one to bits! I ordered it after reading Nikki’s review for it and once I got it I grabbed it to read like the first few pages to see how it was because it was my first Ness book and… whoops! I was hooked and less than three hours later I had finished it!

    So many things that I loved to bits! The friendships, the sibling relationship, how Mikey and Mel took care of each other and how they’d do anything for Meredith (even the insane concert!).

    The mix of serious moments with insane ones and the brilliant humour… Just perfect!!

    And now I want to re-read it!
    Pili @ In Love With Handmade recently posted…GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE FIRST ARC INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY!!!!

    • Kim

      It makes me so happy that you two already love this book! It makes me happy that this beautiful gift of a book exists out there in the world for people to enjoy. I don’t know why, but I was apprehensive going into this book. I was afraid I wouldn’t like it. At some point about halfway I realized that I was effortlessly enjoying it. Time had slipped by and I hadn’t even noticed it! It’s been *forever* since that happened to me. It really is such a wonderful mix of, as you say, serious and insane moments while also being funny. I was actually laughing out loud so much. Which is sort of crazy considering how serious and sad this book can be. I just want to hug the book and read it all over again.
      Kim recently posted…The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Review

  6. Savannah

    I have been dying over this book ever since I read the synopsis, but haven’t gotten the chance to pick it up yet!! So glad to hear you liked it, but that only makes me want it even more!

    • Kim

      If you already think you’ll like this I am sure you will LOVE it! It seems like a lot of people are having problems with there not being really all that much that “happens” in this book. But you can’t go into it expecting there to be all of this crazy supernatural action. It’s explicitly not about that, you know? It’s about the “normals” and their lives and how they go about continuing on.
      Kim recently posted…The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Review