I was so excited when I heard that there would be a new Patrick Ness book this summer, and I emailed Walker Books who kindly sent me a proof copy!
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…An exceptional novel from the author praised by John Green as “an insanely beautiful writer”.
The concept behind this book really interests me as I have often thought about the minor characters in some of my favourite books (most notably Harry Potter, of course) and wondered what they might be thinking or going through whilst the protagonist is saving the world. This idea is often played out in fanfiction, but Ness takes it one step further, parodying the idea of the ‘chosen one’ with an epic destiny whilst telling the everyday stories which are no less important than saving the world. I like to read books which challenge the boundaries of writing, and this particular trope of the protagonist rushing in to save the day and being the centre of the narrative is one that we rarely question because, of course, excitement and extraordinary things happening are what makes a good story. In The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Ness successfully challenges the role of the protagonist; by sidelining all the crazy action and focusing instead on the fairly ordinary struggles of Mikey and his friends, he shows that every character has a story to tell.
One of the reasons why I really love Patrick Ness’ work is that I enjoy the way he tackles the big questions of the human condition. Who are we? Why are we here? etc. He also does a wide range of human emotions really well. I was not disappointed with The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Mel’s struggle with anorexia and Mikey’s issues with OCD are normalised in this book – in a positive way. Mikey has help from professionals, but he also has the unwavering support of his friends, particularly Jared, to help him manage his illness.
I enjoyed the throwback to classical literature with the chapter synopsis given at the beginning of each chapter; the subversion of this through detailing events that in are the periphery of the main storyline works really well.
This book is funny, knowing, sensitive, honest… and wonderfully written. A must-read!
The Rest of Us Just Live Here comes out in the UK on August 27th 2015.
P.S. If you really want to treat yourself, you can preorder a signed limited edition at Waterstones (it has sprayed edges and they’re yellow!) – click here.