The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness is the story of the kids who are not the heros, or the ones pulled into the magic and mystery, but the kids who live and see it happen from the outside. With gods, vampires, and other unearthly things coming to the town throughout their lives these 4 seniors are just trying to graduate. The story is told from the perspective of Mike, the middle child of his family and a senior in high school, but Mike suffers from loops of OCD tendencies that cause him to do the same actions over and over again. 4 and a half weeks until graduation and Henna goes off to Africa and Mike has lost his chance to reveal to her his true feelings, but things are made more complicated when a new boy in school seems to get Henna’s attention. Things are of course more complicated than just that, there’s his sister who died and came back to life as a result of starving herself, there’s his politician of a mother, his deadbeat alcoholic thief of a father, his gay friend who might be more than a friend, and Henna beautiful wonderful Henna who has taken a liking to Henna. Of course Mike naturally hates Nathan, but he will soon become more suspicious as Nathan is seem lurking around outside and coming of the woods mysteriously. Though the whole group has their own individual unique difficulties Mike seems to struggle with the idea that he is wanted, but many dangerous things will happen and he will soon have to face his feelings and his fears.
This book was listed on a list of best books regarding mental health and it definitely deserves to be on top of the list. The character development in this book is so dramatic and personable. The depth of every character makes the story a really effective book. The idea of telling the story of the people who are not the heros or the center of action is something that can appeal to many people. Multiple of the characters in this book suffer from different mental health problems and Ness does a great job of portraying those problems. Mike’s loops of doing a certain task over and over again until it seems right is an issue that is not commonly written about and the progression of his struggle with the loops throughout the book is very detailed and realistic. Mike’s sister was anorexic and actually died of starvation, but was able to be revived. The impact of this problem is well portrayed in the family and the effect of the media on her struggles is also a highlighted issue of great importance and is another connection that Ness writes very well. Each character has a different problem that steers their lives in a huge way and that is portrayed excellently in this book.
While each character is going through their individual problems Ness creates this world of background noise to illustrate how the main characters sit outside of the action around the town. Each chapter starts with a description of what has happened in the town with the unrolling mystery of the death’s of children and the blue lights so that the action is understood when the main characters are witnessing these things. The flow of events in this book is very easy to read and understand and his point comes across with the main idea of not being the hero or in the middle of main action really well throughout his writing style.
Another idea that is illustrated really well in the book is the effect of a traumatizing event. Mike and Henna hit a deer one night on their way home. The accident leaves Henna with a broken arm and Mike with a large gash and soon to be scar on his cheekbone. Henna decides to take risks and starts to experiment, she decides to see Mike and Nathan in the name of exploration. However, Mike reacts quite differently and his OCD tendencies increase and he finds himself in more loops than he has in a long while. The differences of reactions is something that is very true to life and it is illustrated really well in this book through the character development of both Henna and Mike after their accident.
In conclusion for the unique plot and in depth characters and how Ness uses what you could describe as background noise to illustrate the books main theme makes this book a great read. This book would be good for any teen or young adult and it may give the feeling of inclusion since Ness perfectly illustrates many problems todays teen and young adults may experience. This book was rated 5 out of 5 because of all of the reasons stated above.