The Rest of US Just Live Here by Patrick Ness // Great concept, failed execution

The Rest of US Just Live Here by Patrick Ness // Great concept, failed executionThe Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
on October 6, 2015
Genres: Contemporary (YA), Fantasy (YA)
Pages: 336
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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.
Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

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The story follows Mike and his group of friends just trying to survive high school, family drama, and mental illness while there is a battle going on in their small town between the ‘indie kids’ and the ‘immortals’.

This novel reads like a contemporary and would have been just as effective if the ‘chosen one’ concept wasn’t even part of it. It was a great story about drug abuse, mental illness, eating disorders, absentee parents, friendships, first loves and everything you, or someone you know, went through in high school. The added ‘chosen one’ plot just seemed unnecessary. I’m sure that the point of it is to show that no matter who you are, the hero or the average guy, everyone has their own issues they need to get through. I just think that could have been demonstrated without the ‘chosen one’ plot.


Mike is a pretty depressing guy. He has an OCD issue in which he gets stuck in these “loops” of repeating the same task over and over (i.e. hand washing, locking the door, counting tiles etc.). He hates himself during these loops and repeatedly says “I’d rather die”, “I  want to stab myself in the chest” and the like, throughout the novel. It was like a rain cloud was constantly hovering above him.

His group of friends consist of Jordan, his best friend, the one to always break him out of the ‘loops’. Henna is the girl he’s liked for years but has never made a move on. His older sister Mel has an eating disorder herself that actually caused her to die for 4 minutes years earlier, so Mike is extra protective of her. His younger sister, Meredith, is the genius in the family with a love for a popular country boy-band. And the new guy Nathan, who Mike suspects is actually an “indie kid”.

All seemingly normal but with their own fair share of the dramatics. For example, Jordan happens to be a View Spoiler »; Henna leads Mike on through the novel because of her need for ‘exploration’ after a near-death experience. I actually really despised her, she was a horrible person.

There wasn’t a character I fully connected with.

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Each chapter begins with a ‘summary chapter’ of what the ‘indie kids’ are up to. It’s brief, between 4-10 lines, then it continues with Mike’s life. I forgot what was in those ‘indie kid’ chapters by the time I reached the next one. So I wasn’t really following that plot, which may have been the point, but then why include them at all?

I couldn’t tell if this was supposed to be humorous or taken seriously. There were some over-the-top parodies which I just found to be tasteless. The way the ‘indie kids’ are described and that there about 4 of them all named Finn just seemed a little unnecessary and, for lack of a better word, rude. Really, by the end of the book, I didn’t even know what Ness meant by ‘indie kid’? Does he just hate anyone that has a certain haircut or wears glasses? The way the ‘indie kids’ were talked about just came across like he was bitter about something.

Sometimes the writing had the effect on the story that it intended, such as the car accident scene which consisted of one long paragraph with no commas; it gives the reader an urgent feeling. However, other times Mike would begin a long rant/flashback that I would leave already forgetting what he went on about. The fact that I didn’t connect to him or any of the other characters probably had an impact on my interest in his rants, though.

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This was a tough one for me to review because while I didn’t like the integration of the ‘indie kids’, I did enjoy the theme of the story. I liked that it had a variety of characters all dealing with something difficult in their life, even if I didn’t connect with any of them. Overall, I was more in love with the idea than the execution. Take all the ‘immortals’ and ‘indie kids’ out and you are left with a decent, somewhat heart-wrenching, contemporary about a boy trying to find his place in the world.


Rating Report
Overall: 3 / 5

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