TITLE: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
AUTHOR: Patrick Ness
RELEASED: August 2015; Walker Books
GENRE: Magical Realism
FORMAT: Library Hardback
KEY INFO: Coming of age, superpowers in contemporary society, young adult struggles, super cute friendships, not the Chosen Ones, romances
REPRESENTATION: OCD (MC), gay men, eating disorder, woman of colour, anxiety
CONTENT NOTICES: OCD loops (minor injuries), discussion of eating disorders, discussion of suicidal thoughts, anti-depressants
The Rest Of Us Just Live Here is the first Patrick Ness book that I’ve read and I have to say I’m completely in love with his writing. He manages to expertly blend together adorable friendships between completely flawed young people, and serious coming of age issues with witty comedy to bring us an engaging, unusual, lovable story which is an interesting mix of YA fantasy and contemporary.
Mikey, his sister, and their friends are just the normal kids (well, mostly normal. His best friend Jared may or may not be a demi-god of cats). They’re just trying to get by, graduate from high school and spend their last summer together before they all go off to college. But mysterious supernatural powers behind the scenes have a different idea. These are the same supernatural powers which, decades before, unleashed zombies and soul-eating ghosts upon their small town which ended up with the Indie kids having to blow up the school to save everyone from a tragic death. This time it’s a weird blue light that shoots up into the sky, and Indie kids like one of the Finns going missing or turning up dead. Very weird and extraordinary things happening on the edge of a bunch of normal friends living their ordinary friends.
I love stories with groups of friends that you feel like you’re apart of. Every time I picked up TROUJLH I felt like I was coming back to spend some time with my friends and try to figure out what all these weird things were together. There’s our male protag, Mikey, who is pretty ordinary but also has severe OCD and gets stuck in obsessive loops that he can’t seem to get out of. His kickass older sister, Mel, who had to be held back a year due to her eating disorder that developed when their very prim mother decided to run for some kind of stressful job in office. His freaking ADORABLE, gay best friend, Jared, who is the grandson of the Goddess of Cats and occasionally drifts off to bless large groups of cats who are hanging around. The lovely Henna who Mike can’t get over but whose missionary parents have decided it’s a good idea for her to spend her last summer in the war-torn Central African Republic. The New Boy, who hangs around Henna too much for Mike’s liking so he doesn’t trust him. And the most normal one out of them all, Mike and Mel’s little sister, Merde Breath (I mean Meredith) who’s really a genius.
While we’re provided a very short paragraph about all the supernatural events unfolding between the Indie kids and the Immortals, each chapter is entirely focused on our very normal but diverse group of friends as they battle coming of age issues like mental illness, experimenting with your friends, jealousy, life pressures, friendship tensions, and romances. It was so nice to read a book about the kids in the background rather than the chosen ones. I’ve always wondered what happens to those people. The people who are running around in the streets screaming during alien invasions but have absolutely no insider knowledge as to what is attacking us and will have absolutely zilch to do with bringing down the Enemy. The people who just happen to live in the place where everything is going down but still need to go to school every day and try not to have breakdowns.
When I picked up TROUJLH I had no idea what the book was about so it was a very pleasant surprise, and I definitely wasn’t expecting a diverse cast. It was nice to stumble into a group of friends who all have their own shit going on but are also there to support each other through it all. I thought Ness dealt very sensitively in his portrayals of OCD, eating disorders, and both gay and straight romances.
I ended up steaming through this because I was enjoying it so much and picked it up at every single opportunity I could. I’d definitely recommend everyone picking up a copy to read and I’m looking forward to picking out some more books from Ness in the very near future (translation: I’m waiting to get paid so I can get a copy of this and A Monster Calls!)