Book Review: THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE by Patrick Ness

Photo credit: Goodreads
Note: ICYMI, I got the thumbs up to share some pretty amazing Beyond the Red news yesterday. :)

So forever ago, a friend of mine DMed me on Twitter about this ARC she was reading that had a lot of anxiety rep and she was curious to see if I'd read it yet. I hadn't, but I very much respected her recommendation so I added the book, which I was already curious about anyway, to my TBR. The book eventually published, and for a long time I didn't get around to reading it, partially because every time I read the sample I just...wasn't that into it for whatever reason? But then I saw it in the library, and after remembering how few books I'd read with neuroatypical rep this year, I grabbed it.

I'm glad I did, because my friend was right and I really loved The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. But as usual, before I say why, here's the Goodreads summary:

"What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? 
What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. 
Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.
Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions. 
Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable."

So right from the start I thought the premise of writing about the regular people in a Chosen One story was pretty brilliant—and it turned out even better than I'd hoped. Ness doesn't just play with the Chosen One trope—he pokes fun at sooo many YA stereotypes, from the Chosen Ones having "cool" names, to the ridiculousness of some of the romantic plots, to Chosen One deaths and brave sacrifices, etc. etc. There were a lot of moments that made me actually laugh out loud, and it gave the whole book a really playful tone that I very much appreciated.

Then, of course, there's the anxiety rep. The protagonist, Mike, has OCD, and while my anxiety never pushed me into endless loops like his (though I am familiar with loops, and especially familiar with feeling the need to wash my hands "one more time"), there was a lot that felt really familiar and real while I was reading. Doubly so because like Mike, I once worked in a restaurant at the height of my anxiety breakdown and would wash my hands so many times there I'd leave with dry, cracked hands. This is just one example. I took pictures of other lines that really resonated with me, but point is, at least to me, the anxiety rep felt pretty solid. So solid that after the first night of reading I had to put the book down and take a deep breath because it was almost triggering. Of course YMMV, but for me, at least, the representation rang true.

So all that said, I really appreciated seeing some real, respectful anxiety/OCD rep on the page. The cast of characters is also super diverse, which was an especially great bonus.

All in all, I really enjoyed this one and would totally recommend it to those looking for a fun read with some neuroatypical rep. I will caution, though, that if you're likely to be triggered by vivid anxiety rep, you may want to skip this one or go in with eyes open at least. But now I'm going to have to read more Patrick Ness books because this was excellent.

Diversity note: The protagonist, Mike, has OCD. Other prominent characters include his sister, who has an eating disorder (but is in recovery), his friend and love interest who is Black, and his best friend who is gay.

Twitter-sized bites:
.@Ava_Jae gives⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️to Patrick Ness's THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE. Is this quirky YA w/OCD rep on your TBR? (Click to tweet)

We know the Chosen Ones, but what abt everyone else? Try Patrick Ness's THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE. (Click to tweet)

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