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4/5: The Rest of us just Live Here

The Rest of Us Just Live Here - Patrick Ness

Mike isn't The Chosen One. He doesn't have to fight the basilisk in The Chamber of Secrets and he doesn't fancy the glowing vampire. He's just a teenager on the side lines, watching for the next thing to come along for the protagonist. Trying to be normal, in other words.

There's a paradox I've come across a few times in media: Something that you're having such fun with, you don't want it to end, but you so want to rush through just to see how it all comes out. I've had this with the movie Groundhog Day: before you know it, it's moving into the third act and it's all going to be over soon. With regret and a little sorrow, you realise that you won't be spending any more time with these characters.

I felt the same way with The Rest of Us… I was having such fun with the characters, enjoying their lives and problems that I didn't want it to end…but I wanted to see how they all came out. When I saw there were only a dozen pages left, my heart sank.

There are actually two stories going on here. The headers for the chapters are what's going on with the 'hero' (Or in this case, heroine), while Mike and his friends go through their normal lives – OCD, anorexia; the new boy in the school who might be a mystery, a concert for your younger sister. A drunken father. The stuff of a normal life in other words, out of the spotlight where there no dragons to kill and evil wizards to defeat.

Mike doesn't think he's the hero of this story…but in every way that counts, he is. His OCD and lack of confidence are the obstacles he learns to come to terms with; he accepts his OCD is just the chemicals in his head, not a moral failing. He acts to overcome the challenges he faces, as any hero does.

The only reason this dropped a star for me was the feeling that the ending was rushed. Everything seemed pushed into the last chapter or so. And the cynic in me would suggest that Ness has taken a normal coming-of-age tale and dressed it up in slightly new clothes - after all, there's nothing really new here that hasn't been covered in a dozen YA books. But the cynic in me is slapped down, because this book is such pure fun and the characters are so warm and enjoyable.

I loved spending time with all of them, and I felt that sorrow when I had to leave them behind.