Review: The Rest of Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Rest of Just Live Here by Patrick NessThe Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Published by HarperTeen on October 6, 2015
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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four-half-stars

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 worshiped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

Going into a Patrick Ness novel, I’m always a little bit nervous, more so the more I read. Yes, I know the book will be well-written and unique, a good addition to the YA world. It’s not the quality that I worry about. It’s that I never know what I’m going to get. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is my fourth Patrick Ness book, and every single book seems like it was written by a different author. This obviously speaks incredibly highly of Ness’ talent, which damn, but also means that I’m never sure how I’m going to feel about one of his novels. Will it be sort of a dud for me or will it change my life? Thanks to Debby (Snuggly Oranges) and her peer pressure, I decided to find the time for The Rest of Us Just Live Here, which is a really good thing since it’s my favorite by far of his books I’ve read and more of the life-changing variety.

The premise of The Rest of Us Just Live Here is so freaking clever. Ness set out to write about the unchosen ones. Throughout The Rest of Us Just Live Here, the Buffy figure (Satchel) and her Scooby gang are trying to save the world from an invasion by the immortals. Obviously that has an impact on the main characters of this story, but they’re not the ones who have to defeat the threat. They’re in a lot of danger, but they can’t actually do anything to stop it because they’re not speshul.

Satchel goes into hiding at an abandoned drive-in with fellow indie kids Finn, Dylan, Finn, Finn, Lincoln, Archie, Wisconsin, Finn, Aquamarine, and Finn

The “indie kids” are those kids in every generation who are special. They have YA character names, and yes this did give me great glee throughout the book. Anything that pokes fun at YA character naming is A-OK in my book. Ness was very on point with the number of kids named Finn, although obviously the second most popular indie kid boy name should have been Damon. Dylan’s close but not quite there.

Everyone knows the indie kids don’t use the internet—have you noticed? They never do, it’s weird, like it never occurs to them, like it’s still 1985 and there’s only card catalogs—so we can’t find them discussing anything online.

YASSSSS. Ness does such a good job picking fun at the worst paranormal tropes. He’s lovingly mocking Buffy and I adore every moment of it. The Rest of Us Just Live Here takes place in a version of earth where some sort of potentially world ending apocalypse hits every few years for a new group of indie kids to fight off. Obviously, high schools are constantly in danger of blowing up in this world. It’s so brilliant and funny.

Each chapter of The Rest of Us Just Live Here opens with a paragraph-long chapter title. That’s weird, I know, but what this chapter title does is update you on the actual plot. In one paragraph, you find out what the Indie kids are doing, particularly Satchel. The rest of the time, you’re with a group of “normal” friends: Mikey, Mel, Jared and Henna. The four of them aren’t outcasts and they’re not popular. They have each other and they love each other.

Mikey’s older sister Mel shouldn’t be in his year at high school, but she’s a year behind because of the time she spent battling anorexia. Mikey, meanwhile, struggles with OCD and anxiety issues. He’d been doing a bit better, but all the stuff with the indie kids going on in the background ups his anxiety which kickstarts his OCD loops. I completely love Ness’ portrayal of Mikey’s psychological issues. Mikey’s an immensely lovable kid, but he needs help. The OCD reminded me of OCD Love Story in how uncomfortable it was to read, which means that it was on point.

Ness depicts the importance of treatment for psychological disorders. Mikey doesn’t really want to go back into therapy, especially because he fears his mother, now going for a Senate seat, will be mad that it would make her look bad. He knows he has to, though, and it helps. He doesn’t want to go on drugs either, but he’s willing to try anything to get better, and it helps. Also, on a personal level, I’ve been fairly certain I have an undiagnosed anxiety disorder because I get worried about possible consequences to an unhealthy degree. As Mikey was talking to his therapist, though, I was nodding along with everything he said about his anxiety, minus the bits about the OCD. Not gonna lie, I almost cried reading the therapist’s response to Mikey.

“But if you’re going to obsess about something, obsess about your obsession being a treatable disorder. Obsess about it not being a failure of something you’ve done or something you didn’t do or some intrinsic value as a person that you fail to have. Medication will address the anxiety, not get rid of it, but reduce it to a manageable level, maybe even the same level as other people so that—and here’s the key thing—we can talk about it. Make it something you can live with. You still have work to do, but the medication lets you stay alive long enough to do that work.”

Of the Ness novels I’ve read, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is by far the most character-driven and voicey. Mikey’s voice felt so real, and I adore Jared and Mel and Call Me Steve too. The only reason this book isn’t getting five stars from me is that I loathe every fiber of Henna’s being. I really wish I didn’t. I know I should hate Mikey for turning her into this MPDG in his narration, but I don’t. I feel badly about it, but I unship them and I really didn’t want Henna around. Also, though I loved the resolution of the love triangle between Mikey, Henna and Nathan, I did not love reading about it at all. I also really wanted Mikey and Jared to make out, though I know why they didn’t and I am thrilled that they used to fool around just because and not because feelings. Yasss to that.

I highly encourage you to check out this book. It’s one of the cleverest, most meta, most hilarious books I’ve read in a while, and I totally wasn’t expecting that. None of the Ness books I’ve read have been funny and banter, but wow this book.

Favorite Quote:

“I wonder if realizing you’re not sure about stuff is what makes you a grown-up?”

“Lots of adults seem really sure about things.”

“Maybe they’re not grown-up either.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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3 responses to “Review: The Rest of Just Live Here by Patrick Ness”

  1. Hannah says:

    I adored the author’s send-up of the Chosen One tropes. They were utterly hilarious.

    On a more serious note, I was impressed with his depiction and attitude towards medicine and therapy – namely because so many books depict medicine as bad or a weakness, along with horror therapists that don’t seem to know what they’re doing. It was great to see a positive portrayal for once. And as someone who experienced major OCD as a kid, his descriptions really hit home for me in their accuracy.
    Hannah recently posted…Review: Welcome to Night Vale – Joseph Fink & Jeffrey CranorMy Profile

  2. Lyn Kaye says:

    I really love books that seem to poke a bit of fun at the popular tropes, and so I bought this one as soon as it came out. Also, we need stories about the non-chosen, because how many times do you actually win at life? I know that my score seems pretty low right now, and I want to read about losers like me.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Garden Gazette: October Wrap UpMy Profile

  3. Krys says:

    This book definitely put me out of my comfort zone. I originally tried to read it, but I had trouble latching it, so I did the audiobook and managed to get through it all. I liked the different characters and the hitch on mental health awareness and that there is no shame in getting help when you need it.
    – Krys
    Krys recently posted…Review: Henna House by Nomi EveMy Profile

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