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.
First of all, the premise for this book is absolutely genius. Unlike many young adult novels, which focus on “the chosen one,” like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson, The Rest of Us Just Live Here tells the story of a character who is not the chosen one. Mikey is just a normal senior in high school who has witnessed a lot of the crazy things going on without being involved himself, and he just wants to make it to graduation without his school being blown up (again).
In The Rest of Us Just Live Here, each chapter starts with a one-paragraph description of what’s happening to the “indie kids” (that’s what Mikey and his friends call the chosen ones). The rest of the chapter is devoted to Mikey and what’s going on in his life—the girl problems, friend drama, and a Mom who’s running for political office. The short indie kid paragraphs are snarky and sarcastic and (politely) make fun of many of the clichés that show up in young adult literature. Patrick Ness does a great job of finding the line between making fun of stories about “the chosen one” and going too far, and anyone who’s familiar with the well known YA books or book-to-movie adaptations will be able to laugh at what Ness is trying to do.
I can see how Ness’s sarcastic writing style might not appeal to everyone; he’s definitely making comments on some of the more cliched themes in YA. What stood out most to me was the fact that he is showing the importance that every day moments hold: life doesn’t always have to be about being a hero. Sometimes it’s the little things that are more significant in the long run. Ness’s story and writing style, while entertaining, also manage to touch on some very important themes. Mikey has OCD and starts to deal with it by seeing a counselor and taking medication. His sister Mel has fought an eating disorder and deals with her self-conscious constantly. Ness also touches on the acceptance of LGBT teens and family issues with Mikey’s parents. All of this combined makes the characters in The Rest of Us Just Live Here very relatable and real. He shows that these “flaws” are part of what makes each person themselves and addresses the self-doubt and scrutiny that teenagers feel constantly. The ability to connect with these characters while also focusing on their “normal-ness” makes the story real and very touching.
The honesty and humor are what make The Rest of Us Just Live Here stand out. If you go into this book understanding that it is poking fun at popular themes in YA, you’ll be both entertained and touched by the messages Ness presents.