Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

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Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy
Pages: 317
Series: None
Release Date: August 27, 2015 
Publisher: Walker Books

3 Stars

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I finally understand why this novel is getting so many three stars. It’s not because this is a bad novel. Just an underwhelming one.

The concept of the novel is great. Even when I didn’t know about it (or maybe before it came out), I wondered if someone would write about the people who weren’t the chosen ones or in the thick of things. You know, the rest of the people. And then I heard of this novel and was pretty freaking excited. But the lukewarm response gave me pause. Finally read it though.

Like I said, it’s about the people who aren’t the protagonists. In this case, that’s Micky. Bad shit is going on with beams of lights and fissures to another world, but none of it is happening to Micky. He’s just living his life, worried about graduation, going to college, his OCD, a girl he’s been in love with since forever. It’s all normal stuff. He doesn’t know much about what’s going on with the “indie” kids. “Indie kids”, in this novel, are the usual MCs to whom bad shit happens.

At first, I found Micky to be interesting. But then it turns out that it was his disorder that I found interesting, not him. I’m not sure if that’s insensitive, but take away his struggle with anxiety, and he’s just a guy pining after a girl who seems to be stringing him, and another guy, along. He’s also prone to douchiness caused by jealousy.

Safe to say, he’s not very likable. His older sister is better, but not that much. His best friend, Jared, is okay. The girl he’s pining after, Henna, and the whole arc between her and Micky, is nothing but a source of annoyance. And there’s this other guy who’s just… there. It’s like all the character have a gimmick. Micky’s obsessive-compulsive, his sister has history with anorexia, his friend is one-quarter god, Henna’s the love interest and the one going away soon, Nathan’s the new guy who’s part of the love-triangle. These are the gimmicks, and we don’t explore the characters much further than these facts. We don’t really get to know them and, therefore, don’t connect to them.

There were things I liked. The disorders for one, especially Micky’s, and how they was portrayed. I thought it was a really good representation. There was a chapter in which mental illness and it’s perception was discussed which was my favourite chapter.

Also, at the start of each chapter, we would get a paragraph summarising what was going on with the “indie” kids (I still don’t know what, specifically, makes someone an indie kid). Those paragraphs were great. They played with common genre tropes. They were funny and I loved the contrast between the shit going on in them and the normal stuff with Micky.

I wish the rest of the novel had that humorous tone because the overall tone was really off. On one hand, we got the summaries of supernatural stuff going on, the talk about “indie” kids and how some shit like that happened once every decade and yet adults never got involved and basically tried to pretend that they didn’t know anything. On the other hand, we has serious stuff like OCD, anorexia, and Henna’s parents taking her to a country that’s in the middle of a war. There wasn’t a proper balance between the two.

Overall, like I said before, this is not a bad novel. Very readable and with some good parts and truly good insight into OCD. But it didn’t live up to its potential.

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