Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
2017 Book Challenge Entry: A book about or by a person with a disability
Thoughts: Imagine for a minute that vampires, zombies, werewolves and aliens are all real. Now imagine there is an amazing group of teenagers who have what it takes to defeat them.
Now imagine someone wrote a book about what it is like to not be in that clique.
That is the premise of The Rest of Us Just Live Here.
Mikey is a regular guy. Like, a totally regular guy. I mean he’s not even as cool as Xander he’s so normal. #blahblahbuffy. All he wants to do is graduate from high school and possibly make out with his dream girl, Henna. His best friend, Jared does have some healing powers and the ability to communicate with cats, but isn’t the “Chosen One” by any means. His sister, in the throws of battling an eating disorder, is just trying to get through each day. Mikey’s crippling OCD is all the war he can wage and then…ya know…some crazy supernatural beings try to destroy the earth and blow up the school.
So here is what I love about this book. I’m obviously a Buffy fangirl. I’m not going to go on about that, because that book is coming as part of the “Midnight Series” but what I will say, is that I feel like this book took one quote, one line from the entire series and based a main character and a book on one quote. Season 7, Episode 12: Potential
“They’ll never know how tough it is, Dawnie. To be the one who isn’t chosen. To live so near to the spotlight and never step in it.”
This book is for all the kids who aren’t Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker or Buffy. This is for the kids who aren’t even Hermoine or Han or Willow. This is for the kids who are Angelina Johnson or Dack or Jonathan. It’s not just that they aren’t the Chosen One. They aren’t in the clique. They don’t even get the jelly donuts in their uncle’s car. This is like an entire book episode of “The Zeppo” but only if Xander wasn’t actually friends with any of the Scoobies.
And that is absolutely meant as a compliment.
I really loved this book and I think the best thing about it is that it is character and plot driven. Even though the “action” is all happening on the periphery, and the main characters are the “boring” ones, there is so much going on with them and their lives that, as a reader, you are reading for them. I kind of didn’t care about the apocalypse for the bulk of this book because I cared so much about Mikey and his circle. Ness did a wonderful job of building his characters to be the kind I really like; flawed but lovable. It’s a hard balance to strike and he nailed it.
This book is also delightfully tongue and cheek. As a fan of this genre, in both TV/film and literature, I am always so tickled when someone else is obviously a fan. Ness just gets it. Down to the cooky names of the “Indie Kids” (Two Satchesl, lots of Dylans and apparently enough Finns to fill an aquarium) and a summary at the beginning of each chapter on their goingson which is usually hilaaaaariously on the nose if you have ever read or watched these stories. It’s a nice touch and I think it just drives home that this book is about the ones on the outside. Which is most of us.
I’m pretty sure I picked up this book because it was on a list of YA books you have to read that I found on Pinterest or something. I can totally see why. It’s fast paced, well written and is chock full of heart, laughs and tears. Many of the important plot points are not really wrapped up, but that’s life. You don’t always get things wrapped up in a neat little package. The characters are at the end of high school. They are on the brink of everything getting turned upside down regardless of whether or not they are Indie Kids so the ending didn’t bother me in the least.
Ness has created a lovely story here that kind of breaks the rules of the genre while fitting into it really beautifully. It’s almost like Scream. It broke the rules of the horror movie genre while being a straight up awesome horror movie. In a world where so many books in the YA Fantasy genre are cookie cutter, it is refreshing to read something that breaks the mold.