Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully asks what if you weren't the Chosen One? The one who's supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were 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 might just be the God of mountain lions.
Going into The Rest of Us Just Live Here I felt very disconcerted. The main text reads like a contemporary book but each chapter starts with insights on the Chosen Ones and the gods above. There are however overlaps that can be seen when the paranormal events have an impact on the ordinary people. This makes the setting a very strange yet familiar one.
Ambiguity of Genre
One major deciding factor on whether or not to read a book often is genre. In the case of The Rest of Us Just Live Here, this is a consideration best ignored. This book defies genres and reimagines them which I found very refreshing. What matters is telling Mikey’s story, someone who can’t be further removed from the Chosen Ones. It truly goes against convention by sidelining the apparent heroes.
The Genius of Postmodernism
After reading More Than This last year and now The Rest of Us Just Live Here, I’m convinced that Patrick Ness is very much rooted in postmodernist writing. This is something not so prolific among YA books, so I definitely appreciate that.
I loved how this book so beautifully encompasses paranoia to the highest degree, revels in chaos and fragmentation, is metaficitve, and borders on hyperrealism. It embraces the human condition and conveys the uncertainty that we are faced with every day.
Grit and Reality
As I already mentioned, what I enjoyed a lot about this book was the exploration of Mikey’s day-to-day life. Patrick Ness was also highly respectful in his treatment of anxiety. His mental struggles are well-documented in a very believable manner.
Plus, there are his siblings who have such a strong relationship with one another, my heart was leaping. Combined with his friends, I liked the cast of characters, thought there definitely were stories worth telling and didn’t even care so much about the Chosen Ones.
After all, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is in the first-person narrative. That means the narrator is naturally concerned with their own reality. Mikey’s reality is extraordinary in the ordinary and gives hope that we all have a spark of extraordinary in our own lives.