Let me set out my stall straight away.
Patrick Ness is a genius.
Young Adults (or whatever they are going to be known as at that time) will be still be reading his books a generation from now.
So naturally, when a new Patrick Ness book comes out, I rush straight out and buy it. How could I not?
And I start reading.
And I think, Hang on a minute. I must be missing something. Maybe it’s because I’m on this bus and I’m distracted. I’ll put it away and read it when I can give it my full attention.
So I put it away, but, you know, when I bring it out again, it still doesn’t grab me and hold on to me and fill my head with wit and fear and tenderness like those other Patrick Ness books.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here is mostly the story of Mikey, a relatively ordinary teen just about to graduate high school and beginning to anticipate the move away from home and friends to go to university. But set against this coming of age/finding yourself type story, we have the story of the Indie Kids, told in each chapter heading, and slipping now and then into Mikey’s story. The Indie Kids are those kids who, for generations, have been regularly saving the world from vampires/zombies/soul-eaters, whatever, ignored by the adults around them, in true Buffy The Vampire Slayer style. Mikey and his friends are the ordinary kids, the ones who aren’t the Chosen Ones, trying to live their lives and hoping the high school won’t blow up before graduation. Not that they don’t have issues: Mikey suffers from severe OCD which has him washing his hands until they bleed, his sister is a recovering anorexic and his friend Jared is one quarter God of Cats.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here is moving, and it is funny (quarter God of Cats…). The central metaphor works: the adults brushing aside all these insane other-worldly things, just as they underestimate the pressures and tribulations young people are going through, even though they themselves were once subject to such things and should know better. I loved the relationships between Mikey and his sisters and his friends. They were utterly believable.
The trouble is, I think, that The Rest of Use Just Live Here isn’t as clever and funny as it thinks it is. And I really wanted it to be. I wanted to lose myself in it, as I did with Patrick Ness’s other books. I wanted to keep thinking about it after I’d stopped reading it, and to read out bits to anyone who’d listen. Perhaps what it is, is that this is a more straightforward book. Those other books were puzzling and not all the answers were handed to the reader. Here, everything makes sense.
So, with reluctance, I’m giving this four piranhas. If some other author had written it, I might have given it five. But it’s not up there with his other books, not in my opinion. You should definitely read it though. Because, you know, Patrick Ness is a genius.