Have you ever wondered what it was like to attend Hogwarts and not be Harry Potter? You’re just trying to go to class and learn magic and not think about the fact that students are randomly getting Petrified, because you’re only twelve or whatever and it’s clearly not your responsibility to figure out what’s going on. In The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness explores the concept of what happens with everyone else while the Chosen Ones try to save the day.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here centers around a group of four friends, all wonderfully flawed and painfully human. Mike deals with increasingly worsening OCD. His sister, Mel, constantly battles the anorexia that nearly killed her a few years ago. Henna has strict parents who plan on dragging her to a war-torn country for missionary work. Jared is the grandson of a god. You know, just a bunch of ordinary kids. All they want is for nothing huge to happen before they graduate.
The best thing about this book is the complete normalcy of the plot. At the start of each chapter, there is a brief summary of what the Chosen Ones – or, as they’re called in this story, the “indie kids” – are doing. But the actual story follows Mike and his friends as they deal with the looming unknown of life after graduation, the possibility of love between long-time friends, and other hardships of ordinary adolescents. Whatever greater forces are at work touch them only tangentially – enough to be noticeable, not enough to really affect them. (A strange herd of deer causes Mike to wreck his car. Weird blue lights appear all over town. Kids in their class are dying mysteriously. But none of this is their problem. They’re just trying to live their lives.)
You know what? I lied. The best thing about this book is the characters. They are perfect in their imperfections. Their relationships are raw and real and totally relatable. Henna feels an instant connection to new kid Nathan and actually acknowledges that it’s weird to do so. Mike has been secretly in love with Henna for years but never wanted to ruin their friendship. Jared is keeping something from everyone – or maybe just from his best friend Mike. There is the overarching fear that their friendship will be irrevocably altered once they all go away to school. I really feel like everyone will be able to see themselves in one or all of these characters.
I was ridiculously charmed by this book. In a world where more people are “ordinary” than “extraordinary”, so much of the media we consume focuses on the exceptions rather than the norm. Some people might tell you that it’s because the exceptions are more interesting or tell a better story. I think it’s important to be able to find the interesting in the everyday. Just because these people never saved the world, or became super mega famous, or invented something, doesn’t mean that their stories aren’t worth telling. For this reason, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is something people should read. Because it’s a story about the rest of us, and I’ve been waiting too long for it.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness is published by HarperTeen and is currently available wherever books are sold.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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