YA Book Reviews

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

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 worshipped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

I’ve heard a lot of excellent things about Patrick Ness, and for my first experience with his writing and storytelling, I believe everything I’ve heard so far. This book was quirky, goofy, and charming – and very, very relatable in a way I hadn’t expected to see in a teen paranormal-esque novel. Each chapter begins with a short recap of the mystical subplot going on behind the scenes, featuring a conglomeration of “indie kids” with weird names and apparently no time for mundane things like school or jobs. That’s where this book is different.

Ness excels in making the mundane world interesting and captivating – homework, food service jobs, and all. Sure, some things are a little bit weird; I mean, the whole grandson-of-a-cat-goddess thing isn’t exactly normal. But Ness tackles real-world issues in Mikey’s life, including an obsessively career-driven mom, an alcoholic father, a recovering eating disorder victim older sister, and a younger sister who is aggressively fifteen in a way that made me want to call up my newly sixteen year old little sister and talk about music and boys for hours, because that’s her whole world right now. Mikey himself struggles with OCD on top of worrying about grades and dealing with a crush on his close friend Henna, plus suspicion about the new guy in town who she seems really interested in. Tackling these relatable issues (and some insane ones, like reanimated deer) made Mikey stand out a lot, and his ragtag group of awkward teenage friends resonated deeply with my high school experience.

Admittedly, this book isn’t perfect. There were hiccups in the pacing that I ended up skimming through, plus moments where Mikey was really rude and unlikable, or at least overly self-centered and then defensive about it. However, the uncomfortable bits were minimal, and honestly, there isn’t a book out there that doesn’t have flaws. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they absolutely adored The Knife of Never Letting Go but had trouble getting into this book, so if you’re a huge Patrick Ness fan because of that book, don’t go into The Rest of Us looking for another Chaos Walking. In book terms, it would be the equivalent of expecting The Fault in Our Stars and getting Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: both really fantastic books, but wildly different in the approach they take to both the story itself and the YA genre as a whole. I believe there is a chance that anyone could truly love this book, as long as you give it the chance to surprise you.

Bonus sidenote: I loved all of the alternate covers for this book. I think the Bulgarian one is my favorite, but the German one is a close second. If anyone knows who did the cover art for the cover I chose as a featured image, please let me know! I couldn’t find out who did it online, but it reminded me of Fangirl‘s cover, done by Noelle Stevenson. Which one is your favorite?


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