Young Adult Fiction.
The three words that can make anyone’s skin crawl with thoughts of love triangles, dystopian societies, ‘chosen ones’, and bizarre supernatural occurrences happening to seemingly ‘ordinary’ people. Now bear with me – The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by acclaimed author Patrick Ness (the Chaos Walking trilogy, A Monster Calls), does feature aspects similar to this – but what if I told you that under 20% of the events of the book are actually focused on this?
Yes, it’s true. Patrick Ness’ fantastic coming of age novel takes the premise of a supernatural, young adult story, and pushes it to one side, in order to tell the story of Mikey, a very ordinary teenager living a very ordinary life. And herein lies the book’s most divisive element; it is just an ordinary story about an ordinary guy. Think of it this way – it’s like a John Green novel, set in a Cassandra Clare world. While I personally loved the twist on the usual formula, many people have expressed some disinterest in it, and have found the book to be only ‘meh’ to OK, rather than good to great.
However, one thing that I think most readers would agree on is that the satirical take on this YA phenomena is simply hilarious. According to Mikey, none of these events happen to him and his friends because they aren’t “Indie” kids; they’re not the ones who are cool, different, quirky or special, so the aliens, vampires, zombies etc. never target them. It’s a real strength in Ness’ novel, and is the main reason as to why the novel feels so fresh and different. But on top of this, Ness creates some very real and very relatable characters, as the best YA authors do. Mikey is a likable lead, one who you feel truly connected to from the get go, making his narration is another strong part of the book. The supporting cast all seem to be rather cookie cutter character types, but you can’t help but feel that this is Ness’ satire again shining through. Despite the ordinary characters and premise, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a thoroughly entertaining and interesting read, especially when the characters have the occasional brush with the indie kids and their end-of-the-world dilemmas. But ultimately, the book connects you in emotionally through the terribly sad backstories that we get to learn about and the deeply emotive arcs of the characters. By the end of the book, you won’t want it to end because you’ll want to learn what’s happening to your new favourite characters. And if a book can do that, well it’s done it’s job well.
Released last year, The Rest of Us Just Live Here has made some waves already, particularly among Ness’ loyal fan base, but it very much deserves your attention and appreciation. Look out for this one before it inevitably finds the overwhelming popularity it so richly deserves..
The Rest of Us Just Live Here is written by Patrick Ness and was published by Walker Books in 2015. Patrick Ness is the writer of the upcoming Doctor Who spin-off, Class, focused at Young Adults.