Title: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Published: August, 2015 by Walker Books
Purchase: The Book Depository
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.
Now this is a paranormal contemporary done right. I’ve read enough paranormals over the years that get caught up in the teen angst (bitchy girls, annoying best friends, romances with the broody angel/demon/fae/whatever) for most of the book until somewhere around the three-quarter mark when they suddenly remember there’s a world that needs saving. Here, that’s not an issue—the paranormal stuff is going on in the background to a bunch of characters we only learn little blips of—while we get to immerse ourselves in the lives of a bunch of seniors in the month leading up to their high school graduation.
I pretty much ate this book up, barely hopping off the lounge all day except for the occasional feline interruption (Old cat does not like new cat—tufts of fur flying about the room ensue). I found it a little hard to keep track of at first with so many characters being introduced at once. But the single narrative helps keep things on track. Told from the perspective of Mikey, we get to see into the lives of his dysfunctional family—politician mother, alcoholic father, eating disorder older sister, country-singing boyband obsessed little sister (and that’s just his family)—his small group of friends, and by extension, their families. It really does feel like you get to know everyone, which kind of makes this book great.
I won’t say it’s my favourite, because, well, it’s not. Though, it definitely kept me hooked, barely feeling like it lagged. There were only a couple of occasions where I found myself checking the page count remaining. The likeable, but overly-anxious main character helped keep me immersed in the story. His personality felt real to me, not a mirror image of myself, but someone in which I could relate. It’s always good when you can connect with the narrator in some way. Well, it’s much better than being irritated by them. Luckily, here, there aren’t too many ‘why are they doing that?’ moments.
The way in which the paranormal plot tied into things was actually kind of brilliant. You got the gist of what was going on through little blurbs at the beginning of each chapter, highlighting the drama and the perils afflicting the ‘indie kids’, the chosen ones. It was like a story within a story, building up towards a climax, while our main characters dealt with their own, more pressing issues than saving the world from evil creatures, or worrying about whether or not they were going to get themselves killed. That was the indie kids’ problem.
I liked that there was a focus on mental illness and sexuality amongst the characters without making either the sole defining axis on which the book spun. It was just there, brought up from time to time, but not in a way that felt preachy. These were just teenagers trying to live their lives and make the most of them before adulthood got in the way of that. It wasn’t all about school drama, it wasn’t all about home drama, or even the paranormal madness and occasional deaths going on in their small town around them—it was just life. And I liked that.
Anyone tired of the stock-standard paranormals, but wants something a little different from the majority of the contemporary romances out there.