Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Description from Goodreads

A new YA novel from novelist Patrick Ness, author of the Carnegie Medal- and Kate Greenaway Medal-winning A Monster Calls and the critically acclaimed Chaos Walking trilogy, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a bold and irreverent novel that powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

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.

Patrick Ness's books are sort of like a comfort blanket for me - you can never go wrong with his novels. His writing is always so on point, his characters engaging, the humour always gets to me, and this author always handles important topics with such subtlety, such precision that it's impossible not to get affected by Ness's ideas and thoughts. The Rest of Us Just Live Here wasn't any different, in fact, this novel might be my favourite of all of his work that I've had the pleasure to read. 

The Rest of Us Just Live Here was very different from what I've ever read before. Instead of writing about the Chosen One, Ness had decided to focus on Mike who has always been on the sidelines and will continue to be, at least in terms of saviours of the world from vampires, Immortals, and whatnots. Even though we cleverly (and also somewhat mockingly too, which was just awesome, bless you Patrick Ness) get to see what the Chosen Ones are doing as every chapter starts off with a brief chapter of their doings, the majority of the novel doesn't focus on the fantasy element, making the novel strongly more a contemporary novel than anything else. The readers get a glance into Mike and his friends lives, what troubles they go through and how they try to stick together. After all, they are the only thing they really have, and need. 

I was kind of surprised how dark the mood was. The novel wasn't exactly depressing, but it definitely had that sad existential crisis feeling to it. What's my worth? Am I really needed in this world by others? These are probably questions that all of us think about at some point in our lives, some more often than others, Mike belonging to the former group. In fact, he got so anxious about these thoughts that he had started to develop obsessive-compulsive behaviours, which were somber and disheartening to read about. And on top of this, Mike's friends weren't without their problems either. What was really heart-warming though, was that these friends had very strong bonds formed between them and they relied on and supported each other. And this element was the exact reason why I liked this novel much. The friends didn't just bail at the first sight of trouble - they stayed, like a brick wall, from the very beginning to the end.

Ness is somewhat a literary prince - I want to have his book-babies (whatever that means). His style of writing combined with smart remarks and  observations is exactly my kind of thing. Ness also has an impeccable eye (mind?) for writing cinematic text. When I was reading The Rest of Us Just Live Here, it was just so effortless to picture all the events playing in my head and go with the flow. The pages basically turned by themselves, which can be pretty tricky to write considering that this was a character-driven novel rather than focusing on action and blowing high schools (but some of that might have been included too). 

What else can I say, but read the novel! The Rest of Us Just Live Here is packed with diverse  and multidimensional characters, profound yet subtle elements of self-exploration and mental illnesses, occasional good laughs, and also with a commentary about friends sometimes being the real family. I feel very privileged that I got a chance to read this, because it definitely made me think about my own friends and family, and how I don't need to be the Chosen One to be special and needed. Very, very solid 4 stars. 

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