Tell me if you’ve heard this story before:

An adorably quirky teenage girl who struggles to fit in at school encounters a mysterious (and handsome) transfer student who seems to know more about her than he should. As strange things begin to happen all around her, the boy reveals the truth: dark forces are threatening humanity, and she is the only one with the power to stop them.

Sounds familiar, right? Popular media is overflowing with stories that focus on seemingly ordinary teenagers suddenly discovering their Great Destinies, and the havoc this causes in the world around them. But what about the kids in the backgrounds of those stories, who don’t have hidden powers, or prophecies to fulfill? In The Rest of Us Just Live Here, author Patrick Ness explores what it might be like to be an ordinary teenager in a world where Chosen Ones and Apocalypses pop up on a regular basis, the student body is sometimes infiltrated by vampires, and the gods interfere with mortal affairs.

The story focuses on Mikey, his sister Mel, and their closest friends, who would all very much like to make it the last few months until graduation without their high school getting blown up. Again. But with their classmates disappearing, strange lights shooting across the sky, and undead wildlife roving the nearby forest, a peaceful end to the school year doesn’t seem likely.

Ness affectionately pokes fun at the most common tropes in this genre, and the book’s pointed humor is laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s his thoughtful and realistic exploration of Mikey and Mel’s struggles with mental health issues and the bittersweet realities of family and growing up that really stuck with me after I’d turned the last page. Ness takes what could easily have been nothing more than a light-hearted parody of popular story ideas and gives it the substance to make a truly lasting impression.

If you love the The Mortal Instruments and series like it but feel like reading something a little different, you will probably find this book to be a breath of fresh air. And if you don’t normally enjoy fantasy, the fleshed-out characters and insightful look at family, relationships, and other real-life issues in The Rest of Us Just Live Here will still give you plenty to sink your teeth into.

Find this and other works by this author in our library catalog

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