Patrick Ness strikes again! I’ve wanted to read The Rest of us Just Live Here since I read the blurb online and realised it was a Ness mockery of the “chosen one” trope. And finally, my library have it (I am under a very limited book buying sanction. Library has to do for now).
Not everyone can be “the chosen one”. So what happens to the people who aren’t off fighting zombies, or ghouls, or whatever the thing is with the blue lights and death. What if you’re not an “indie kid” and have more to be worrying about than the oncoming zombie apocalypse? What if you’re like Mikey, who just wants to graduate, hang out with his friends and pluck up the courage to ask Henna out before the high school gets blown up again. Some problems are bigger than the supernatural, and perhaps its time to find the extraordinary in the ordinary (even though your best friend is the God of all cats…).
The main character has severe anxiety manifesting in OCD, his sister has an eating disorder, one friend is three-quarters Jewish one-quarter God (and also gay) and their other friend has anxiety. Their families are dysfunctional, their town has seen its fair share of crazy, its adults against teens, the perils of politics and alcoholism and just hanging on until graduation so they can get the hell out of their small town and onto college.
So for those who aren’t the chosen ones, the ones pre-ordained to have to fight vampires and ghouls and gods and immortals, life carries on with a few minor inconveniences. I think Patrick Ness must’ve loved Buffy because it’s set in a small town and effectively in a school. I like that the “chosen one” story is happening to someone else, and these kids, they know something is going down by they’ll just hear about it the same way as the adults because they’ve got more important things to be worrying about like finals, and graduating, and prom and college.
One thing I really loved about this book was how, at the start of every chapter, there is a little section in italics which basically summarizes how the story is going for the “Chosen Ones” or as they are know, “The Indie Kids”. It’s incredibly pretentious and just mocks the whole chosen one and heterosexual romance of so many YA fiction books and I love it. Seriously, half the Indie Kids are called Finn and the Chosen One is called Satchel. It is what is happening parallel to the life that Mickey and co are trying to lead. It’s also quite amusing how all this crazy is happening to the Indie Kids, and then Henna will just say something like “I hope they don’t blow up the school again” or “Nah the indie kids have got it.” They know they aren’t the heroes of the main story and are absolutely happy with that.
As much as I did enjoy this book, it didn’t have quite as much of an impact as the likes of A Monster Calls or Chaos Walking but it seems a bit unfair to compare them. The Rest of us just live here combines satirical observations about the chosen one trope with teenage angst and fears. It is a good, well written book. But I think I’d give it 3.5-4 stars and not any higher. As much as I enjoyed it, it was a fairly easy read without any of the usual emotional whallop I’ve come to expect from Ness. So while good, its not oh my god fantastic.