The Rest of Us Just Live Here: A Review

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick NessMikey isn’t the chosen one. He’s not going to fall in love with a vampire. (It’s hard enough just trying to tell Henna how he feels now that she’s finally broken up with her boyfriend.) He isn’t going to change his name to Finn or Satchel or Kerouac. He isn’t going to fight zombies. (Not when he’s busy trying to keep his own OCD tendencies under control.) He isn’t going to rid the town of ghosts. (Not when the almost-loss of his sister is still so fresh.)

Sometimes it’s hard being the chosen one. Just ask any of the Indie kids at school. But, as Mikey knows all too well, sometimes it’s also hard just being a regular guy trying to make it through senior year and make sense of his life–hopefully before the high school gets blown up. Again.

When it feels like every week there’s a new impending doom, sometimes the most extraordinary thing to do is live your regular not-chosen-one life. Even if your best friend is worshiped by cats in The Rest of Us Just Live Here (2015) by Patrick Ness.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is Ness’ clever send-off of almost every recent supernatural/paranormal trend to have hit YA literature. Remember when everyone was falling in love with vampires? What about the soul eating ghosts? Or way back when the big thing everyone was dealing with was Gods? They all make an appearance in Mikey’s town where high schools get blown up more often than kids named Finn end up at the center of a battle for humanity.

But none of that is really Mikey’s problem because he isn’t an indie kid and, as such, it’s also not a concern of The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Chapter headings explain the “big” story as indie kids Satchel and Finn (not the dead one, the other one) try to save the world from something . . . weird. Meanwhile this book focuses on Mikey’s life in the background of this supernatural drama as he looks toward the end of high school and all of the uncertainty it holds for himself, his best friend Jared, Henna–the girl he thinks he loves, and Mikey’s sister Mel.

The thing to remember here, is that despite the backdrop of supernatural on every level, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is basically a contemporary story. And a familiar one at that with Mikey’s uncertainty about nearly everything except his rock solid bond with his best friends.

While the premise of characters doing the best they can on the periphery of a bigger drama seems original, in Ness’ hands it feels decidedly trite. Something in the execution of The Rest of Us Just Live Here–with its obvious nods to classic YA like Twilight and TV shows like Buffymakes this otherwise enjoyable novel feel unoriginal and slight. While not necessarily a bad thing for every reader, it can make it hard to connect with (or even care) about these characters.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is an ideal choice for readers who like their stories a bit zany and their adventures madcap. Recommended for readers suffering from paranormal romance/dystopian adventure fatigue.

Possible Pairings: Landscape with Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson, Geek Fantasy Novel by E. Archer, Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom, Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts, The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle, Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin, All We Have is Now by Lisa Schroeder, We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

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11 thoughts on “The Rest of Us Just Live Here: A Review

  1. I absolutely agree with your assessment. That said, I loved the book anyway. The reason is twofold: One, Patrick Ness just like… blows me away. I love the way he writes and I am probably biased ;) And two, even though it was weird and I didn’t fully connect all the time, I related to the characters very much. I feel like there was something in them for everyone, if that makes sense? Plus I just flat out found the strangeness refreshing. Some books are like, TOO out there, but I thought this was a good blend of weird and normal hahha. But I think your review is absolutely accurate, and you’re right- it will work for some people, but I can definitely understand why it won’t for others!

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    • Thanks Shannon! After struggling with More Than This and being underwhelmed by this book I think I have the opposite problem–I’m just not that big a fan of Ness’ writing style. It happens sometimes but I’m definitely the minority on this one. It was almost like I was having deja vu while reading it because some aspects were SO familiar.

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  2. Nice review Emma! I really enjoyed this book and its cute premise (as well as its diverse cast of characters!), but Ness’s voice left me a little… dry. The idea definitely made an impact on me, but I feel like the execution just wasn’t my style. :P I’ve heard great things about the author’s other books though, so I may check those out later.

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  3. This was my first Ness book, so I went in with no expectations. And I did find the premise to be very amusing and unique, because it was somewhat of a parody to Twilight (Not sure if parody is the right word?) I also loved that this time, the the supernatural event was described in only a couple of sentences (which I guess turned out to be a bad thing because then I wanted to know more about what was going on).

    Also, did you have any thoughts about the ending and Jared? I felt that it took away from the message of the book, like he was chosen and everyone else in the group…wasn’t. I think that’s the only thing that nagged at me though.

    Awesome review Emma!

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    • Thanks Val!

      I wasn’t sure about a few aspects of this book. The ending was a bit strange. I think in some ways Jared chose to become “chosen” or whatever for his friends but you’re right it was still buying into a lot of the tropes that the rest of the book was sending off.

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  4. I’ve been really, really curious about this one, but I still can’t decide if it’s for me. I never got into the whole vampire trend. The same goes for ghosts and Gods. I just never found any of it to be interesting. Heck, I didn’t even read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone until my senior year of college.

    After reading your review, I’m thinking this is one I’m going to put on hold at the library. I don’t want to buy it because it seems like it could go either way for me.

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