It was good. But not great.
I was actually a little disappointed. But I think that’s because my expectations with Patrick Ness are sky-high.
1. The premise I love love love the premise here, and not just because it’s on my list of “future story ideas” (Patrick Ness, idea-stealer!) The story is told from the point of view of a regular guy, Mike, who goes to school with a bunch of “indie kids” aka “Chosen Ones”. Each chapter opens with a brief paragraph about what the Chosen Ones are up to–finding magical amulets, attempting to stop the rise of The Immortals–then leaps into Mike’s story, where he’s struggling with mental issues and family issues and an unrequited (or IS IT) crush. (The opening paragraphs are hilarious, btw.)
I’ve seen some people comparing this book to The Zeppo. If you’re unfamiliar, I’m referring to the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that is one of the finest hours of television ever created, in which Xander has his own crazy adventures the same night Buffy et al are once again fighting demons at the opening of the Hell Mouth. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is not the same thing: this is more the story of the unnamed extras in Harry Potter. The red shirts. The people who have no relationship to the Chosen One(s). What those of us who are not Chosen, or even remotely on the radars of the Chosen, get up to while the Chosen are off fighting the Ultimate Evil. The Rest of Us. Who Just Live Here.
2. The writing It’s no secret I adore Patrick Ness’s writing. This book was no Chaos Walking, but the writing and voice were still fantastic.
“The mistake of every young person is to think they’re the only ones who see darkness and hardship in the world. The mistake of every adult, though, is to think darkness and hardship aren’t important to young people because we’ll grow out of it. Who cares if we will? Life is happening to us now, just like it’s happening to you.”
3. The protagonist I was immediately on Mike’s side. He was so relatable and flawed and lovable.
“What’s important is that I know how much you worry about shit. And what’s also important is that I know a big part of your worry is that, no matter what group of friends you’re in, no matter how long you’ve known them, you always assume you’re the least-wanted person there. The one everyone else could do without.”
4. Mike’s family His parents were a little too clichéd messed-up parents (ambitious politician mom, alcoholic dad) but I loved Mike’s sisters and his relationship with them, and especially how protective he is over them.
“We share our craziness, our neuroses, our little bit of screwed-up-ness that comes from our family. We share it. And it feels like love.”
5. The diversity There’s some homosexuality, some bisexuality, a black girl, a Latino guy, and lots of mental illness. Hooray for characters who are not all white, straight, and healthy.
The Less Good
1. Mike’s friends They were all fine and good, but I feel like I didn’t get the best sense of Henna, or Jared, or Nathan. I just didn’t care enough about them. It was a lot more telling than showing with them. Maybe the book could have been longer? Maybe Ness could have cut more of …
2. The weird goings-on I would have been fine if the supernatural stuff stayed more firmly in the background. Instead the “normal” kids are occasionally burdened with it. The action sequences were good, but then there was this reveal at the end that I really didn’t like. I thought the point of the story is that regardless of the levity of people’s problems, they are still problems, and this kind of undermined that.
3. The climax and conclusion I feel like there wasn’t much of either. The story just kind of fizzled out. I was reading the beginning much faster than I was the middle and end, because it just got kind of slow. I was actually glad when it was over (and not least of all because that meant I could start this.)
So in conclusion: 6 out of 10 stars. Patrick Ness, please continue writing, but please make your next story a bit mire epic.
(P.S. I am now documenting ALL of my reading adventures over on Litsy, and I love love doing it. Join! Follow me! I’m wanderlustywriter :))