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. Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.
The reader in me absolutely adores Patrick Ness! The writer in me, on the other hand, is extremely bitter and jealous of his talent. Holy hell is he good! And this book, friends, is absolutely fantastic! Off the bat, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is awesome because of:
- A diverse cast of characters (YAY!)
- An incredible portrayal of anxiety and eating disorders.
- A god of cats (yes, really).
- A fun take on the “chosen one” trope.
- Snarky, meta goodness.
So, The Rest of Us tells two interconnecting stories. The first is about the “indie kids” – you know, the Buffys of the world, the ones who save the world by picking the right boy to love or whatever. That story serves as the backdrop of the more important story starring the ordinary Mikey and his ordinary friends.
The Rest of Us is an amazing blend of fantasy and contemporary YA primarily concerned with the lives that carries on while the heroes are off saving the world from whatever it is the world needs saving from that isn’t global warming. It’s about the ordinary people who have a very minimal part in world-saving, if at all. I can’t recommend this book enough. I loved it because it was relatable, snarky and heartfelt. It was everything!
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The writing style is a lot more playful than other books by Ness but it still tackles a lot of important issues the characters go through including the aforementioned anxiety and eating disorders as well as family drama, love, jealousy, friendship, sexuality, etc.
I deeply related to almost every character especially Mikey (since he’s the narrator). I loved reading about someone plagued with the same neuroses I was plagued with as a late adolescent (and let’s face it, as a young adult). And I deeply appreciate Mikey’s non-specialness. This is a person who knows he’s the background character to another story. And yet his own story is not diminished by the higher stakes of someone else’s narrative.
My takeaway from it was that every life is remarkable, even if it isn’t.
My verdict: ★★★★★
Goodreads ★★★★✩ (3.8, rounded up)
“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 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.”
“Feelings don’t try to kill you, even the painful ones. Anxiety is a feeling grown too large. A feeling grown aggressive and dangerous. You’re responsible for it’s consequences, you’re responsible for treating it. But Michael, you’re not responsible for causing it. You’re not morally at fault for it. No more than you would be for a tumour.”
“It felt like waiting for something to happen. Which has to be the worst part of being young. So many of your decisions aren’t yours; they’re made by other people. Sometimes they’re made badly by other people. Sometimes they’re made by other people who have no idea what the consequences of those decisions might be. The bastards.”
“The mistake of every young person is to think they’re the only ones who see darkness and hardship in the world.” … “The mistake of every adult, though, is to think darkness and hardship aren’t important to young people because we’ll grow out of it. Who cares if we will? Life is happening to us now, just like it’s happening to you.”
“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.”