Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: Contemporary YA (with a smattering of urban fantasy)
Date Read: 01/12/2015 – 03/12/2015
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

restofuscoverI imagine this book would be a marketer’s nightmare. It’s definitely got magic and zombies and Immortals running around. But they’re running around in the background. This book is about the kids that don’t have to fight magic and zombies and Immortals, and have much more every day concerns like passing their finals. But! A reader would need to be familiar with the fantasy tropes Patrick Ness is referencing in order to get a lot of the humour. So it’s a tricky one to put in a box. I did think it was quite entertaining, though.

I’m not sure that paragraph will make sense to everyone, so allow me to explain a bit more. Mikey, his sister Mel, and their friends Henna and Jared (and possibly some others whose names I have forgotten by the time I got around to this review) are the background kids in a town where weird things occasionally happen. They’re not the Chosen Ones, who have to fight the monsters, though every now and then they are attacked by zombie deer or witness a tall tower of blue light coming from the woods. They’re the other students at Sunnydale High School, just getting on with their lives while Buffy fights the vampires. Each chapter opens with a summary of what the “Indie Kids” are doing, and it slowly starts to all line up with what the regular kids are doing, too.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into this book. I’d only just started reading Patrick Ness’ work, and knew that a number of his fans had been disappointed by this one. At first, it did seem to be a fairly standard YA contemporary, closer to Fangirl than Cinnamon Girl in terms of how much I would enjoy it. However, Patrick Ness soon proves that even his “regular” kids are engaging and just because they’re not fighting literal monsters, doesn’t mean they don’t have their own battles to fight. The book deals with themes of growing up, family and friends, and mental illness, all woven into the plot without being heavy-handed about it. I will admit that I think the reason this book got four stars from me was because of how well represented Mikey’s anxiety was, and how much it hit close to home for me. Patrick Ness also once again created character relationships that I had never (or rarely) seen before in YA. The friendship between Jared and Mikey is basically platonic (they’ve fooled around a little bit, but Mikey essentially identifies as straight), but they have a very tactile relationship. Most YA authors would shy away from two boys touching each other and being very sensitive around each other, unless they were specifically depicting a gay relationship. It was nice to see someone explore the fact that people can have bonds like that without being romantically linked.

Overall I can see why fans of Patrick Ness’ other works would be disappointed by this one, but for me the characters were well-drawn enough to get a higher rating. Now onto more Patrick Ness’s books! (I promise soon I’ll be finished all his books and then I’ll shut up about him 😀 )

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