The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Opening sentence: “Chapter The First, in which the Messenger of the Immortals arrives in a surprising shape, looking for a permanent Vessel; and after being chased by her through the woods, indie kid Finn meets his final fate.”
Earlier this year, I read my first book by Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls, and it is still one of my favourite 2017 reads, so when I spotted The Rest of Us Just Live Here in the library, I thought I would give it a go. I was also drawn to the blue-tipped edges, I just love little details like that.
I knew this was a Young Adult book and the opening sentence (above) quickly let me know that it would be set in the realms of fantasy, but other than that, I had no details of the plot and just dived in. As I experienced before, Ness is just a delight to read, so easy and eloquent, while effortlessly building characters that feel so real.
We are introduced to 17-year-old Mike, his older sister Melinda and their friends Jared (who is part-God) and Henna (interestingly, for charity Patrick Ness auctioned off the chance to have your name appear as a character in this book and Henna Silvennoinen was the winner!) who are just about to graduate from high-school and head off for new lives in college. They may lead pretty average lives (well, as average as they can be when one of them is part-God), but the world they live in is not average. There are multiple references to the strange happenings, as Mike explains, “In my lifetime, we’ve had 1) the undead, 2) those soul-eating ghosts, 3) the vampire cycle of romance and death, and 4) whatever might be happening now” yep, it’s just that kind of place. It’s always the ‘indie kids’, of the opening sentence, that are caught up in these supernatural goings on and they are the ones that will defeat whatever evil is currently threatening the town – to the extent where Mike and friends are intrigued by what’s going on, but know it’s not their place to do anything about it.
Each chapter begins with a short overview of what the ‘indie kids’ are up to in their quest to defeat the Immortals, then goes on to describe the story of our aforementioned lead characters. You would expect the focus to be on the supernatural action, but Ness make the main plot about the more day-to-day human experiences of a group of friends, who just happen to live in a place where these extraordinary things are happening and it’s this detail that make this book such a rewarding – yet exciting and interesting – read.
Even though, for me, it didn’t come close to A Monster Calls, this was a truly engrossing way to spend an afternoon. I enjoyed the escapism and did find myself caring about the characters. Based on this book, I will definitely read more Patrick Ness.