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New YA novel focuses on real people

By Kayla Whittle
Staff Writer

Whether you’ve heard of Patrick Ness or are just looking for a new book to read, “The Rest of Us Just Live Here” is a young adult novel to look out for.

What if you aren’t the chosen one, the hero wrapped up in a prophecy, but one of the extras in the background? Ness explores the concept of what happens to these normal people while someone else is out saving the universe.

The story follows the everyday character of Mickey, who is simply trying to survive high school and graduate before his school is blown up — again. He is a typical student in a modern world that is almost exactly like ours, apart from the whole potential of the world ending due to crazy things like alien invasions, zombie attacks and ancient prophecies coming to pass.

Mickey learns to accept himself and ask for help from his peers. (Photo courtesy of Goodreads)
Mickey learns to accept himself and ask for help from his peers. (Photo courtesy of Goodreads)

It seem like every time the “chosen ones” — the group of people you’re used to reading about in young adult fantasy who are fighting for humanity — find a new problem to fight, the average citizens must also fight to keep their lives normal. It’s a fun concept, filled with characters who are incredibly intricate and hilarious, despite the fact that they’re used to being overlooked in stories.

Ness also excels at weaving a great deal of diversity into his novels through his main characters. Mickey had fooled around with guys before he realized that he does prefer girls, and also struggles with severe OCD. Yet, Ness is sure to make this just one small part of his life, not the defining feature of the novel. It is refreshing to see main characters live with mental illness, as well as how friends must sometimes help those who cannot help themselves.

The reader pieces together the overall problem of the world from how it bleeds over into Mickey’s life. While he’s battling the everyday problems of high school, the “chosen ones” are battling the forces of evil. As the plot rolls on, the danger to Mickey and his friends grows from minor car accidents to potentially loosing their lives if the “chosen ones” can’t win their battle in time.

The chapter titles are particularly funny because they use dry wit to describe what’s happening to the heroes, all while Mickey is living out his life as best he can.

Throughout the book, Mickey changes from the typical outcast high school senior into someone funny and complicated enough to be your best friend. He learns how to accept himself, how to ask for help and how to live a life where he isn’t always in control.


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