“I don’t do pity anything. Pity is patronizing. Pity is the assumption of superiority.”
Three normal humans and a demi-god walk into a high school. No, really. In The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness, Mikey and his friends just want to make it to graduation without the school blowing up from another superhero fight. In a world filled with superhero battles and dangerous bad guys, normal, average, powerless humans are just trying to survive things like Prom, Algebra 1, and getting into college. Mikey wants to turn his best friend into his girlfriend, wants to keep the attractive, mysterious new guy from stealing his spot in the friend group, and wants his mom to maybe calm down with the election campaigns for Senator. Most of all, Mikey just wants to avoid the new uprising of monsters that are mind-controlling the city police and killing super-powered kids (called “indie kids”) like flies and focus on his own problem instead, like his sudden return of OCD that has him washing his hands until they are raw.
Ness’s book takes an inner look at the kids who have to survive superhero catastrophes, knowing there is nothing they can do to help. This book is not about normal kids saving the day. It’s not about the underdog showing his true value by proving his worth in front of the whole town. This story is about one boy coming to terms with his mental health and learning that just because he isn’t going off on a grand adventure, doesn’t mean he isn’t important in the world.
“They’ve all got other lives. Jared’s got all this family stuff, Mel’s dating a doctor, Henna’s going to Africa. And what do I have? I have them. I don’t have anything else.”
Mikey is such a relatable narrator for me because of his self-doubt and anxiety. One of the things Ness did really well is write a character who is scared of turning into his old self and falling back into a boatload of mental health issues. Mikey wants to get better and wants to be better, but he struggles with feeling right in his skin. Even though he’s one of the normal kids, Mikey doesn’t feel normal at all, and more than anything, he wants to be like everybody else (who’s normal). Because of this, Mikey feels sympathetic towards the indie kids, who already have low survival rates and are constantly facing some supernatural challenge on top of everyday puberty and homework.
Overall, this is a cute story with really intriguing characters and a nice sibling relationship. I enjoyed reading the parts in which Mikey and his sisters hang out. Those scenes felt very unique to this book and were fresh to read. At the end of the day, I didn’t feel a strong connection to any of the characters (besides Mikey) or the storyline, but I am glad I read it and would recommend it for a light read that could be finished in a day.