Patrick Ness has a special knack for writing about the extraordinary in an ordinary way, while at the same time extraordinarily portraying the ordinary. His latest novel, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is the story of a boy named Mikey and his group of friends. They lead what appear to be ordinary lives, however Mikey’s story is set against those of a group of “indie kids” from school who face a series of supernatural and super-bizarre events. The beginning of each chapter paints a brief picture of the indie kids’ trials and tribulations with the likes of vampires, mysterious blue lights and the elusive Messenger of the Immortals.
Whereas in many of today’s popular young adult fiction this fantastical storyline would perhaps rise to the surface, this novel instead looks at what quietly goes on in the background. I think in many ways what Ness has explored in this novel, is the idea that not everybody has such an extreme story to tell. What about the rest of us, who aren’t the “chosen ones” – are so-called ordinary stories somehow less important?
Throughout Mikey’s narrative, we learn that in fact he and his friends are all going through troubles of their own. The paths they take to try and resolve these problems revolve around the love and strong bonds between one another, all struggling through a time where the spotlight is thrown upon the dramatic and surreal. Although this can perhaps be perceived as a slight nod towards the ever-increasing presence of (at times) implausible melodrama in the world of young adult fiction, what I see highlighted throughout Ness’ beautifully written novel is the idea that, even if you feel irrelevant or unimportant in the grand scheme of things, you may be surprised at who comes through for you in the end.