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Monday, 4 January 2016

Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here

The Rest of Us Just Live Here follows the story of Mikey, his sister Mel and their best friends Jared and Henna - a tight knit group. Four and a half weeks before their graduation from high school, weird things are once again happening in their town. Years ago, it was the zombies and vampires, now it’s the invasion of the immortals – once again only affecting the heroic indie kids.

Although this sub-plot is woven in as happening on the outer, it still strikes a somewhat irreverent fear in the community and some of the characters have near misses with the immortals. Author Patrick Ness cleverly uses as a narrative device a short summary at the beginning of each chapter to convey a parallel story and what is happening on the invasion/end of the world front.

Ness provides a light-hearted dig at fantasy and end-of-world novels with the main premise of this story being that it’s okay not to be The Chosen One in a world of heroes and it’s enough to just try and survive your teen years with its sometimes overwhelming problems. So, as the indie kids are saving the world or being heroes, Mikey, the 17 y.o narrator and protagonist, says ‘The rest of us just have to live here…’.

Mikey is grappling with OCD, is conflicted and frustrated about things happening around him and feels on the outer. He and/or his friends are dealing with or exposed to issues of sexuality, mental illness, eating disorders, alcohol abuse, parentification and the supernatural. Ness shows how these characters find the strength to deal with these issues with the help of each other – supportive, sassy and loving friends who don’t judge. They are flawed characters, yet pillars of support for each others’ emotional well being, educational success and future aspirations.

Ness, twice a Carnegie medal winner, shows enviable talent and flair for characterization and dialogue. His characters are real and three dimensional, and stay with you after the last page. His dialogue is so sharp and astute and current and witty, I was swept up in the characters’ world and their desperate need to get some clarity in their lives.

Patrick Ness is the author of the Chaos Walking Trilogy amongst other works.

Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker Books, $24.95 RRP
Publication Date: 2015
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781406331165
For ages: 12+
Type: Young Adult Fiction

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