Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here (2015)
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy
Extent: 352 pages
Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here is built on a really interesting concept. Essentially, in this society, there are ‘indie’ kids—kids who are the main characters of various stories, the world-savers and the alien-stoppers—and the ‘normal’ kids, who are classmates of those main characters and generally just stand in the sidelines. This book is about a normal kid, Mike, who basically just wants to live through to graduation, except certain weird things keep happening and making it hard for him.
I don’t really know how I feel about this book even after letting it rest for a few days and thinking it over. I found the plot to be generally a bit bland, which perhaps was kind of the point, seeing as Mike is supposedly a ‘normal kid’, but it took a while for things to be interesting, and I felt like the pacing could have been much faster so there was less downtime between all the action.
I also didn’t really connect with any of the characters. They were quite diverse (Ness is great at those, I heard), but I also found them quite mediocre, so reading the book was more about finding out if anything interesting would happen and if I would get attached than about caring about his characters and wanting them to be safe.
Now, onto the more enjoyable things. Mike and his sister Mel were both really quite troubled in their own ways—Mike with what I recognise as OCD and Mel with an eating disorder—and I like that Ness paid attention to these things and gave them focus in certain times, along with an acknowledgment that it’s really never easy or simple to recover from one.
The highlight of the novel to me was the tongue-in-cheek, meta humour Ness has scattered in the book. He refers to tons of tropes of the Young Adult genre numerous times throughout the story, and I found it occasionally quite hilarious to imagine. Fans who read YA a lot would recognise the tropes Ness played with and would probably love it as much as I did.
Overall, I found The Rest of Us Just Live Here to be a generally enjoyable read. It was a bit too contemporary for a fantasy novel and too fantasy for a contemporary novel, but it was a really unique idea, with occasional humour that made me chuckle a few times.