Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: contemporary
Series: N/A
Pages: 352
Published: August 2015
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 2.5/5

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.

This is another one of those books that I can see what the author is trying to do... but the execution doesn't quiiiite live up to the idea behind the story for me. It's the classic "not as bad as it could be but also not as good as it had the potential to be" situation and this one hurts. Patrick Ness is admittedly clever, original, and a fantastic writer; this is the first time in four books I finished a Ness novel with a less than four-star rating. The Rest of Us Just Live Here wants to subvert tropes and plots and instead ends up meandering from minor plot point to minor plot point. It has none of the life or spark that is so present in his other novels and ended up a mediocre reading experience.  

I never cared for participation trophies when I was a teen or younger, and this book feels like a participation trophy in novel form. It tries, it really does. I get that we see the same plot arcs in different trappings and personalities, but those stories? Are interesting, for the most part. The successful ones, anyway. The main issue I had with The Rest of Us Just Live Here is that the group of kids at the heart of the novel are.... boring. Sure I liked the diversity and variety of the teenage life shown but these kids just... hang out. It's more accurate to the real high school experience, sure, but it doesn't really make for an interesting read. There's no real driving force behind the story -- Mikey likes Henna, Henna might like someone else. An indie kid dies -- off screen. Repeat, add family issues, repeat for 300 pages.

Even though the plot and characters fell flat for me, I cannot deny Ness's obvious other talents as an author. The man can write. Even when I was less than interested, his writing has a way of connecting with a reader. It's magical and I just wish the end result here had felt more focused, with a clear plot and more dynamic characters. There are also thinly veiled homages to Buffy that only made me like the obvious inspiration for the novel more. I can't say this is a book for everyone, and while it wasn't for me I can still see why others are such fans.

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