The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Walker Books, 2015
“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.”
Do you ever wonder what happens to those people in the background after a hero saves the day? Or what are they doing while a vampire and a mortal hero fool around, falling in love? This book gives us a glimpse of their lives, interwoven with the story of the heroes, sadly and beautifully apart from their exciting story. But these ordinary people have their own stories to tell, and sometimes their stories are way more exciting than those of our usual heroes.
Sometimes your problem with your Calculus exam is way more important than the rise of the dark lord.
“They’ve always got some stories going on that they’re heroes of. The rest of us just have to live here, hovering around the edges, left out of it all, for the most part.”
This book tells the lives of the minor characters within the story of mortal heroes and vampires and dark lords and what else and how their lives continues to unravel even if they are not part of the story. As the summary of the book said: it powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable, reminding us that there are other stories revolving around other characters even if they are not the central ones (because they are not destined to save the day), that they have special stories of their own.
The book funnily opens each chapter with a glimpse of what was happening with the “heroes”; an introduction to their wonderful family in one chapter, meeting the handsome vampire or immortal in another, saving the world on the rest of it. They also have funny names such as Satchel and Finn and Kerouac, clearly a swipe on those YA novels centering on well, teenage heroes. Meanwhile, the rest of the chapters are dedicated to the simple life of Mikey and his group of friends, his best friend Jared Shurin, his love interest, this girl with a difficult surname Henna Silvennoinen, and his sister Mel. And oh and his opponent to getting Henna’s love, a guy named Nathan.
Mikey’s character is deliberately made to have an ordinary story where he is tortured with his unprofessed love with Henna and worrying about college. That’s that, and also he had OCD. The book touches issues about mental illness and homosexuality and how these affect our daily lives. But yeah mostly, I just fell in love with Jared over and over while reading the book because he was this big silent guy with a brotherly instinct to protect his best friend Mikey.
And also I like how the author, Patrick Ness, took a swipe on boy bands: “the one voice you can always tell is modified by computer to make him hit the right notes.”
“Not everyone has to be the Chosen One. Not everyone has to be the guy who saves the world. Most people just have to live their lives the best they can, doing the things that are great for them, having great friends, trying to make their lives better, loving people properly. All the while knowing that the world makes no sense but trying to find a way to be happy anyway.”
I have read the summary of this book in a book store but forgot about it and so when I started reading it (in e-book form) I was just so lost because I thought that this was an ordinary story with ordinary characters like when the crazy stuff started, the blue light, the mountain lions and other crazy sh*t at first I thought that the characters in the book were just plain crazy. It turned out that they are not, if you would like to believe them.
It also reminds us that it doesn’t matter what other believe to be true, as long as you believe it to be true, then no one should stop you in seeing the world as you see it with your own eyes.
This book is special, particularly to me, because the characters’ name (some of it) came from true people’s names like Henna and Jared. These are people who donated in a special fund raising organized by some authors, including Ness, for the victims of typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda as called in the Philippines).
While the ending left some unanswered questions, the book is a nice reminder of what ordinary life is like, leaving some questions without answers, loving people, delving on our problems, and living the best we can, all this while watching heroes battle villains to save the world.