If you’ve ever read a book and thought to yourself “I wonder what the characters watching this think is happening” then this is the book for you.
Patrick Ness is becoming one of my favourite authors. In just over a month, I have read 3 of his novels, and he really does not disappoint. While The Rest of Us Just Live Here is definitely the weakest of his works that I’ve read, it’s not a particularly bad book. It just didn’t grab my heart and rip it to shreds.
The premise is incredibly intelligent. Stylistically, this book was outstanding. The book takes the concept of the “hero” plot, and reduces it to the sideline: the chapter titles tell you what’s happening in the hero plot, but the novel itself is about the lives of some kids while this hero plot is going on. While these special kids (called the “indie kids” in the novel) are out saving the world, the protagonist Mikey and his friends are just trying to make it to graduation. Mikey, living his so-called normal life, of course sees that this hero plot is going on, and even gets a bit swept up in it sometimes, but that plot isn’t his story. His story is about dealing with OCD, friendships, and what he feels is unrequited love while trying to understand (but not get involved in) whatever the hell is happening in his home town.
It’s really, really, really great.
I mean, Ness takes the peripheral characters in a normal novel, and he makes them the mains, examining their lives and their stories. I hope some other authors follow his lead, and we see more books like this, about people who exist on the sidelines, living full lives while right beside them, the world is about to fall apart (literally).
I love how chill Mike is, and I love how jealousy is his defining trait. I love that he’s unlikable in many ways, and extremely relatable in others. I like how the book thoroughly examines his OCD, and his family’s many, many problems. I like how he’s chill about sexuality, and how he’s self-centered and insecure, and I absolutely love Jared. It’s about the normal kids, the kids who could be special and talented, but really, truly just want to live normal lives, which I think is awesome.
But it didn’t capture my heart. While I liked it, I didn’t love it, and it is the format rather than story that is going to stay with me. A valiant effort, and a really good book, but it’s not beautiful. But maybe it doesn’t have to be.
3 chosen ones out of 5.