For What It's Worth

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Fast 5…The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness



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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.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

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Top five reasons I loved The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

1.
Diversity 

I love how Ness wrote a wonderful set of diverse characters, touched on sexuality and mental illness with an authentic but lighter touch. The Rest of Us Just live Here is a bittersweet but FUN book. I really loved the moment he described a boy band as Caucasian – because white shouldn’t be the assumed default for all characters.

2.
The brother/sister bond

I don’t think this dynamic gets explored enough – in any genre really – but especially YA. Mikey and Mel (& younger sister Meredith) have an amazing bond that was lovely to read. Because of their own issues and lack of parental guidance, they have come to rely on each other. I haven’t read many brother/sister relationships like theirs.

3.
Sexuality

There’s a bit of an unrequited love aspect to this story but I loved how it played out. It wasn’t your typical resolution. There was no slut shaming, and there was a very healthy attitude about exploring your sexuality and the different ways you can love someone. (sorry – this is all sort of vague but I don’t want to spoil anything)

4.
Mental Illness

The issue of mental illness wasn’t brushed under the rug – there was no miracle cure but it was dealt with in a really honest way allowing characters to have both highs and lows. This book doesn’t shy away from therapy, medications, relapses and choice. It shows mental illness as it is – an ongoing struggle and that there's nothing wrong with asking for help.

5.
Anxiety/life changes

This was one of the best books I’ve read that explored the transition from when you graduate from high school and your whole future lies ahead of you. It’s a time filled with joy and possibilities but also fear and anxiety. Your relationships with friends and family is changing, you’re leaving people who have been your rock solid foundation, you are now responsible for your choices.

The dialogue between the friends and family was written so well that I teared up a few times. I felt like *I* was saying goodbye.

***
At the start of each chapter is a short (maybe a paragraph or two) parallel story about the Chosen Ones trying to stop The Immortal Ones from opening a fissure and take over Mikey's small town. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Hellmouth.

While that storyline was fun to follow – and I get what Ness was going for – show the, cool, Indie kids (Buffy and Scooby Gang) dying to save everyone else who is just going about their day as if nothing is going on. I just don’t think it was executed well.

Mikey, his sister and friends struggles to deal with this chapter in their life is pretty straight forward coming of age stuff and written brilliantly. It didn’t really need the gimmick of the Chosen One storyline, although it does end up tying together eventually. Sure it made it a bit more original and fun but it broke the story in two rather than serving as a metaphor or adding anything meaningful.

Even so, this is one of my favorite books of 2015 because of how genuine the characters and their feelings felt to me.

18 comments:

  1. Wow wow wow. Loved the Top 5 Reasons. I mean, both from the review point of view and the book content point of view.
    I have a feeling that we'll end being on the same page about this one :).

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    1. The way the characters interacted as graduation/college loomed ahead was sheer perfection - IMO. It was messy but authentic.

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  2. I have heard so many excellent things about Ness. I really need to get my hands on this book one of these days. Thanks for sharing, girl!

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    1. I hadn't read anything by him before but this was so good that I'll definitely be reading more by him.

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  3. wow.. not kidding when you say the book is diverse, lots of great topics covered!

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    1. It REALLY is - I didn't get into too much of it because of potential spoilers but it was so well done!

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  4. Oh this sounds so good. Love all the reasons you have listed... especially the diversity. Always on the lookout for more diverse books.

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    1. This is probably one of the most diverse books I've read in a long time - but it wasn't the focus - just the way things were.

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    1. I was kind of surprised by how much I liked it Pam.

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  6. I love this author and you've piqued my interest..love the breakdown review!

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    1. This is the first time I've read anything by him. I'm a fan now!

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  7. Sexuality themes, it's great that it was done nicely here. I've read where there's no slut shaming but it was so hard not to tag someone the S word because of how it was presented.

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    1. I know what you mean. They end up writing it in a way that's still judgy even if no one voices it.

      I'm curious what other readers feel about a particular character. I thought it was written really well - especially from he boy pov but I know readers like their girls to "pick a boy" and stick with it.

      Sorry how vague that was but I didn't want to spoil for anyone.

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  8. I'm glad to hear you thought the tougher issues were done really well. I am really excited to check this book out - sorry the Chosen One aspect didn't work for you, but the rest of it sounds too amazing to pass up!

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    1. The Chosen thing was cute - on it's own. I just didn't think it was integrated as well as it could have been.

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