Monday, 3 August 2015

The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness

Pages: 342
Publisher: Walker
Release Date: 27th August 2015
Edition: UK proof, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, Monster of Men, A Monster Calls, The Crane Wife, More Than This

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 the new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and got to prom and maybe finally or work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the 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.

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

The Rest of Us Just Live Here was my first Patrick Ness and I was actually pretty disappointed. I was expecting the fall head over heels in love and be blown away, but I thought it was just okay.

I really love the premise of the story and relatable strain of being the ordinary guy next to a group of Chosen Ones (who they called indie kids), but there was no real point of connection for me. Though each character was interesting in their own way, I just didn’t care about them. I honestly don’t know if I would have finished it if I hadn’t been on the beach without a backup or my Kindle. There were definitely elements of the story that I enjoyed, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the lacklustre characters and underwhelming writing.

The portrayal of mental illness in the form of OCD and anorexia was brilliant, however. Mikey’s OCD and anxiety is pretty severe and I loved seeing it consistently throughout the novel and Mikey demonstrating his frustration, upset and inability to control it. The same went for Mel’s anorexia. The reassurance that mental illness isn’t your fault, it’s an illness that needs to same care and treatment as something physical, that it isn’t your fault. From an author as beloved and respected as Patrick Ness, I feel like that’s a message that could stick for lots of people. I especially liked how Mikey’s therapist explained it to Mikey: if his anxiety is his fault, is a cancer patient to blame for their cancer? No, of course not! It’s one of those ‘duh’ moments I hope will stick with readers.

Mikey and Mel’s problems are only worsened by their sucky home life. Their mum is running for office and the pressure to be perfect, the hide their illness and their dad’s alcoholism and their mum’s distance from their lives is suffocating. They rely on their siblings instead. Together Mel and Mikey take care of their little sister Meredith as best they can, keeping her away from the problems of the family and protecting her from the potential dangers than crop up when the indie kids are around. I loved their relationship; it’s always so nice to see a strong, supportive sibling relationship with genuine care and thought and love.

Sadly, The Rest of Us Just Lived Here really missed the mark for me; maybe I was just expecting too much from Patrick Ness, but I do intend to try another of his novels at some point. I think I just picked the wrong book to start with.

Thanks to Walker for the review copy.


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