So many young adult novels are about ‘the chosen ones,’ those teens who are special and they’re going to change their world for the better. What if you’re not ‘the chosen one’ though? What if you just have to live your life when everything around you is falling apart? Patrick Ness asks this question in his latest book, The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Patrick Ness is my favourite author and I know to expect something different (and amazing) every time he writes a new book. He’s one of those authors who always tries something new. As soon as I started reading The Rest of Us Just Live Here I knew I had a very special book in my hands.
What if you weren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were 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 might just be the God of mountain lions.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here blew me away! It is an incredibly beautiful, funny and moving novel. The premise of this book, that not everyone is the chosen one, works so well. There are two parallel stories happening – the story of the Indie kids and their battle with the Court of the Immortals (which plays out in the chapter headings), and the story of Mikey and his friends who aren’t the chosen ones. Mikey, his sister Mel, and his friends just want to go to the prom and graduate without their school being blown up again. All of the strange events that happen in their town seem to involve the Indie kids, who have names like Finn, Satchel and Kerouac. Their town has seen soul-sucking ghosts and vampires (amongst other ‘beings’) but the ordinary kids like Mikey and Jared are never part of that story. They just want to live their lives the best way they can. I love how we, as readers, know what is going on with the Indie kids and their battle with the Court of the Immortals, but Mikey and his friends and family don’t have a clue. It’s very clever storytelling!
I love the characters in The Rest of Us Just Live Here. They all have their own problems or are ‘messed-up’ in some way. Mikey has anxiety issues that come and go. When he gets especially anxious he gets himself stuck in loops, where he has to count things or wash his hands over and over again. His friends are all going their separate ways after high school and he worries that he’ll get stuck in a loop and not be able to get out of it. Mikey’s sister, Mel, starved herself to death with anorexia and died for 3-4 minutes. She’s on an eating plan but Mikey still worries about her. Mikey’s friend, Jared, has problems of a different nature. Jared is a god of cats so he has cats (both small and large) following him and a special gift that he uses to help his friends. Even though they’re slightly messed-up they still count themselves lucky that they’re not one of the Indie kids. This is a book that makes you feel that it’s OK just to be you, no matter how messed-up you are. I love the way that the story ends and the decision that Mikey finally makes.
One of my favourite quotes in the book not only sums up the story perfectly, but also catpures teenage life:
‘Not everyone has to be the Chosen One. Not everyone has to be the guy who saves the world. Most people just have to live their lives the best they can, doing the things that are great for them, having great friends, trying to make their lives better, loving people properly. All the while knowing that the world makes no sense but trying to find a way to be happy anyway.’
Patrick Ness is an author that can’t do anything wrong in my eyes. I’m constantly amazed by his incredible writing and I can’t wait to read what he writes next. Drop everything and read this amazing book!