The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Published By: HarperTeen
Date Published: October 6, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: Audiobook read by James Fouhey
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 worshiped by mountain lions. (via Goodreads)
Oh. My. God. I sat at my desk and nearly wept (I say nearly because you just don’t show weakness in front of the people who are supposed to fear you). The narrative was so damn good. Let me lead with this, I’ve never encountered Patrick Ness until this book. I recently added his more popular More Than This to my TBR and picked it up from the library after seeing all of the positive reviews. However, when I was looking for an audiobook to listen to while I waited for my work buddy to relinquish Outlander, I came across this and just… OH. MY. GOD.
I know that I’m in a minority here loving this book so much, but I’m positive it’s because this is Patrick Ness to me. The writing is perfect… if it’s being performed. Now, that isn’t to say that I shun all first-person narratives. I just don’t like them as much anymore– something about how many authors try way too hard and just end up coming off as hella pretentious. I didn’t get that here. Maybe it wasn’t there this time… or maybe it’s because James Fouhey was speaking to me as Mikey (yeah… that’s probably it).
Now, the reason this is definitely an audiobook review is because I feel that a lot of my love for this book stems from the wonderful reader. Fouhey’s conversational tone throughout the book worked well with the experimental writing to bring a winning combo that I would love to experience again and again.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here follows around a group of kids doing normal, everyday foolishness while “The Indie Kids/Chosen Ones” are running around off-screen saving the world. Not only was the story unlike anything I’d ever encountered (yes, I have lived under a rock… leave me alone), but it was also presented in a way I’ve never seen (or, rather, heard) before. Ness begins each chapter with a line or two of a separate story– the greater story our main characters aren’t exactly privy to. In a way, it puts the so-called “Chosen Ones” in the background and lets the average Joes take command of your attention for a change.
On the surface, this book is about finding the importance in the little things around you. Often, we see that everyone else seems to be making it big while we’re just average. This story, is a big kick in the nuts to that theory. There isn’t anything wrong with being ordinary. And that’s just what these characters are– hella ordinary.
They weren’t exciting. They were the kids that go to school, try to pass, and go home. They just want to make it prom and graduate so that they can get the fuck out of this town. And I was living for it. I don’t need there to be a linear, action-packed plot for me to fall in love with a book. To be honest, once you accept that it’s okay to be ordinary, you learn that there’s nothing more extraordinary than the shit happening in your life… that you were missing all this time.
Beneath the surface, though… It seems to be an antithesis of the oft-popular YA novel tropes. Come on:
“The indie kids, huh? You’ve got them at your school, too. That group with the cool-geek haircuts and the thrift shop clothes and names from the fifties. Nice enough, never mean, but always the ones who end up being the Chosen One when the vampires come calling or when the alien queen needs he Source of all Light or something… The rest of us just have to live here, hovering around the edges, left out of it all, for the most part.”
It’s the exact description of the recycled characters we love to hate and, likewise, hate to love. Then… there’s the whole “dying beautifully of cancer” jab Ness casually throws in (sips tea while glancing off in John Green’s direction). I was living for it.
In that alone, can I condone a lot of the things I didn’t like about the book. For example, the hodgepodge of in-yo’-face diverse characters? Seriously… There’s the black girl, the gay football player (who happens to be a demigod), the girl with the eating disorder, the guy with the anxiety/OCD, and the new kid. Without that antithesis idea that had been rolling around in my head, it felt like diversity for diversity’s sake. Like there was some quota that needed to be filled, and every character was just another box to be checked off.
All-in-all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I kind of do want to read a physical copy just to see if I get more out of it. On to the