It was a close call for BotW this week (I like it when that happens) – with Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians deserving an honourable mention here for being utterly readable and totally cracktastic. But my favourite thing I read last week was Patrick Ness’s The Rest of Us Just Live Here.
Have you ever wondered what the rest of the kids were doing while Buffy and the Scooby Gang were off saving the world? You know, the ones who voted Buffy class defender at the prom – who admitted that they knew there was something strange about Sunnydale and that she always seemed to turn up to fix it? Or the rest of the kids at Hogwarts while Harry is busy fighting Voldemort? The ones who aren’t The Chosen One(s)? Well this is the book for you. The Rest of Us Just Live here follows Mikey and his friends in the run up to graduation.
At the start of the book, it’s under 5 weeks away and weird things are starting to happen in the town. It’s not the first time this has happened – and as always it’s the Indie kids who are fighting whatever the evil is that’s descended on town this time. Mikey and his gang aren’t Indie Kids (you need a name like Satchel or Finn to belong) so they just see the blue lights, the zombie deer and worry that the high school is going to get blown up (again). Each chapter starts with a summary of what the Indie Kids are up to and then you get into the nitty gritty of the daily life of Mikey and his friends. And they have problems of their own. Sure it’s not zombies or vampires – but alcoholism, eating disorders, Alzheimers, ambitious parents (of various types), OCD and being worshipped by cats and Mountain Lions are pretty tough too.
I’ve seen some criticism of this book for not a lot happening or being boring – but I never felt that at all. What the kids are going through may not be as dramatic as fighting flesh eating monsters, but it’s important – and it’s relatable. I was swept up in the dramas of what was happening in the kids lives – and I identified with them. I wasn’t the popular kid at school and although I loved Buffy I would never have managed to be in her gang, but I did feel like I might have made Mikey’s team.
It is more low key than many other YA high school novels and it’s not as angsty and melodramatic as them either, but it’s touching and bittersweet and in it’s own way wryly funny. If you’ve read all the stories about the Chosen Ones and want another side to the story, then this might well be the book for you especially if you’re a teenager or a student. After all the schools are back, the novelty of a new year and new teachers has worn off and it’s nice to be reminded that as bad as your school life is, it could be much worse.