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The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Review

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Mikey is normal --- or as normal as you can be in a town that has been ravaged by vampires, zombies and, of course, those blooded indie kids. He and his three friends --- Henna, Mel and Jared --- just want to go to prom and graduate before someone blows up the school…again. He’s normal, see? But as Mikey navigates his mother’s political campaign and a new kid seems to have his eyes on Mikey’s crush, he realizes that you don’t need fangs or to be undead or to be named Finn to matter --- or to have a novel written about you.



I have read exactly two Patrick Ness books in the past, A MONSTER CALLS and MORE THAN THIS. He has also written the acclaimed Chaos Walking trilogy, consisting of THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, THE ASK AND THE ANSWER, and MONSTERS AND MEN.



While reading THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE, I could not help but notice how different it was from his other novels that I have read --- in a good way. His other novels, while fantastic, feel like the meat section of a grocery store: more or less the same color, packaged neatly, vacuumed, sealed. This one felt like the fruit and vegetable section: bright, colorful, a little all over the place, everything could be tumbling to the ground at any moment but somehow it all stays rooted in place. The writing felt freer and a little crazier with some more color and I loved it. I really loved it.

 

 

This one felt like the fruit and vegetable section: bright, colorful, a little all over the place, everything could be tumbling to the ground at any moment but somehow it all stays rooted in place...I loved it. I really loved it.

 



There were a couple of details that bugged me about this novel, however. I get that the whole premise of the book is to make fun of “the Chosen One” cliché, but it felt like Mikey repeated how he was not the Chosen One 50 times in the first ten pages. We get it --- you are different from the different people! Also, I did not like how Mikey had had sex with two girls in the past but could not find the courage to tell the girl he liked that he liked her; it seemed out of character (although the fact that he wasn’t a virgin seemed more out of character). And of course, we have the cliche of the dorky and awkward guy in love with the unattainable hot girl. I like to call this, with the utmost respect, the “John Green Cliché.”  Finally, I felt the plot had little rising and falling, which I bet was meant to show how uneventful all of this craziness in Mikey’s life was. But metaphors and great symbolism aside, a book is a book and books need good plot. The things that I think were meant to have a lot of resonance affected me very little.

In spite of the clichés and lacking plot, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I think the characters did it for me. I loved how clever Meredith, Mikey’s little sister, was. I liked how protective Meredith’s boyfriend, Call Me Steve, was and how sweet and caring Mikey’s friend Jared was. And I loved Mikey’s mom, in spite of her flaws, because she was trying.

I recommend this singular novel to fans of Andrew Smith’s 100 SIDEWAYS MILES and Jandy Nelson’s I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN for the quirky characters and wonderful writing, though I would recommend Patrick Ness’s other novels, especially MORE THAN THIS, to fans of M.T. Anderson’s FEED, which is one of my all-time favorite novels.



THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE was very different than anything Patrick Ness has ever written before --- kooky, strange, but surprisingly gripping and believable --- and I can’t wait to see where he goes with his next novel.

Reviewed by Bryn D. on October 7, 2015

The Rest of Us Just Live Here
by Patrick Ness