Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: 1st September 2015
Rating: 4/5 stars
Not everyone has to be the chosen one.
The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating hosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death.
What if you were Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.
And what if there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life?
Even if your best friend might be the God of mountain lions…
Patrick Ness is absolutely brilliant. I loved The Knife of Never Letting Go for its totally original concept, but this book is AMAZING for a different reason altogether. In The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Ness turns the traditional YA fantasy storyline on its head, focussing not on the Chosen Ones fighting the aliens and their blue lights, but on the ordinary, everyday people who aren’t involved.
We do get an insight into the Chosen Ones’ story, through a very short summary at the beginning of each chapter. Ness perfectly satirised the traditional YA trope without insulting the whole genre. That in itself is enough to name him a genius. I laughed quite a bit!
Our main character is Mikey, a teenage boy with some issues. Along with his best friends, and his sisters, he tries to navigate the difficulties of adolescence, while all this crazy stuff is happening to the ‘hipster’ kids. My favourite character was Jared, described at one point as ‘Three-quarters Jewish, one-quarter God’. The God part is related to his special affinity with cats (including a mountain lion at one point….) Ness deals with the big stuff – mental health, sexuality, race (to a certain extent), family dynamics – without ever getting too heavy. The characters are relatable and fun – you can imagine having them as your own friends as the world falls to pieces.
Another thing I really loved about this book is that Ness questioned why the adults never seem to notice what is going on. Each generation seems to believe they are the only teenagers to have had to deal with weird extraterrestrial stuff. And why is it always the small towns? Ness truly makes us laugh at the ridiculous stereotypes we put up with in young adult novels, while still conforming to the genre. It is a masterpiece of satire, and also a great story in its own right.