3 stars. The concept of The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness is that Mikey and his friends are “normal” high school seniors working through the choices and uncertainty of what comes next while an epic battle against supernatural forces is waged by classmates with superpowers. The chapters start with a well-used conceit, describing the events of the supernatural world, then narrates the tale of Mikey and his crew. Knowing the brief description of the supernatural events gives reference to the unexplained things that the “normal” kids observe.
To me, this book came across as an entertaining teen drama, with complex, real-world teen issues of friendship, sexuality, and what comes after graduation. The story was interesting enough to stand on its own as the characters develop and mature.
There were also nicely-handled themes of mental illness, sexuality, homosexuality, politics, and complex parent/child relationships that are very applicable to today’s teens. Ness presents them without “messaging” and their inclusion felt natural in the storyline.
The real joy in The Rest of Us Just Live Here, in addition to seeing the characters forge their relationships amidst uncertainty, is Ness’ straight-faced skewering of pop culture. This book is worth the read just for the scene with a concert by boy band “Bolts of Fire”; his descriptions of the band members and the stages of ecstasy experienced by the squealing pre-teen girl audience is hysterically funny.
The downside of this book is that I always had a feeling that there was a much bigger story going on that we weren’t being told. Perhaps that’s part of its wit; we know important deeds transpire but the day-to-day quest for happiness is higher priority.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here is an enjoyable read for its characters, charm, and sly pop culture references.