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BOOK REVIEW: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

BOOK REVIEW: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Walker Books
August 2015
Hardcover, $24.95
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

10/10

9781406331165

Indie kids, huh? You’ve got them at your school, too. That group with the cool-geek haircuts and the charity shop clothes and names from the fifties. Nice enough, never mean, but always the ones who end up being the Chosen One when the vampires come calling or when the alien queen needs the Source of All Light or something. They’re too cool to ever, ever do anything like go to prom or listen to music other than jazz while reading poetry. They’ve always got some story going on that they’re heroes of. The rest of us just have to live here, hovering around the edges, left out of it all, for the most part.

This isn’t your normal YA story. Mikey, Mel, Henna, and Jared aren’t destined to be Chosen Ones; they’re just trying to graduate and get out of town before superhero kids blow up the school. Again.

Eight years ago, the indie kids battled vampires. Before that, it was the soul-sucking ghosts. Now something else is going on; indie kids are dying, there’s some kind of mysterious blue light searching for them, inhabiting townsfolk, and Satchel is in love with an alien prince she sees whenever she holds a pendant left to her by a dead boy.

But that’s not the story we’re here for.

Mikey is desperately in love with Henna, but is trying to get up the nerve to say something. Maybe this is why he’s started his obsessive counting and checking again, or maybe that’s brought on by the stresses of finishing up at school.

His sister, Mel; love of his life, Henna; and best friend Jared all have their own problems, too. They’re in their final year of school, and childhood in a town like theirs has done what it will, and left them all a little damaged.

And who is that Nathan guy, really? Who starts a new school five weeks before the end of the final year? And how is it that he’s got Henna so interested in him already, with a deep-in-your-stomach kind of infatuation?

 

Patrick Ness has a way of pulling the reader in from the first page, and revealing details about the world and characters in a manner that makes them all feel so very real, no matter the strange elements involved. It’s like meeting a new group of people, and gradually learning about their past, their habits, their sense of humour.

This story in particular deals a lot with various mental illnesses, and feeling like maybe you’re the least wanted in your group of friends. It deals with family dynamics, unexpressed love, real friendship, coming of age, and thinking about leaving behind the life you’ve known for so many years.

This isn’t a story about the Buffys, Trisses and Winchester brothers of the world, it’s about the Xanders, Willows, Lunas, and Becky Rosens (though, less crazy stalker). It’s about the Others, those who weren’t Chosen to be special, to do special things, and to save the world. It’s about the kids who try and get by in the background of the goings-on of the Hellmouth, and who the narrative never focuses on, until now…

And it’s so heart-breakingly, soul-crushingly perfect. The characters will get inside you and make a home in your chest. You’ll never lose these guys now.

And that’s the best news I’ve heard all year.

 

INTERVIEW: Patrick Ness, author of The Rest of Us Just Live Here

BOOK REVIEW: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

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  1. […] BOOK REVIEW: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness […]

  2. […] Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (Young […]

  3. […] Ness’s next most recent novel, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, was one of the best young adult books I’ve read in a long time, and I even had a chat […]

  4. […] it’s not my favourite book dealing with mental health issues, that honour still goes to The Rest of us Just Live Here, it was a great ride and a realistic portrayal of these struggles, set against a more […]

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