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Author: Patrick Ness is best known for his YA novels including the “Chaos Walking” trilogy and his “A Monster Calls”, which has been adapted to film and will be released in in 2016. Two of his books, “Monsters of Men”, and “A Monster Calls” have received the Carnegie Medal–the UKs highest award for children’s books. “A Monster Calls” is also the first book to simultaneously win both the Kate Greenway medal for illustration and the Carnegie medal. In interviews Patrick has said “My theory is that a writer doesn’t just think of an idea, they perform them. A book is not a song, a book is the performance of a song.”
Plot: Everyone knows the “Chosen Ones” of YA Fiction: Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, Percy Jackson, Tris Prior among others. You know. The ones who carry the heavy burden of saving the world. But have you ever wondered what was happening in the lives of everyone else while these epic battles were taking place? With “The Rest of Us Just Live Here”, Patrick Ness pays tribute to all the ordinary teenagers living in a “Chosen One’s” world. And you know what? We “normals” might not have special abilities, but it turns out we can be pretty extraordinary nonetheless.
Chapter the Fifteenth: While the the “indies” aka the Chosen Ones are busy battling the latest threat to earth, Mikey is relaying his fears to Jared after the latest fight resulted in a massive explosion at a concert that he and Mel had brought their younger sister Meredith to. The ever practical Jared tries to allay his fears:
Jared: “Listen to me,” he says, sounding angry. “We’ve got the prom, we’ve got graduation, we’ve got the summer. Then everything changes. Are you going to live all that time until we go, afraid?”
Jared: “Please don’t.” He’s still weirdly angry. “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.”
Why It Matters: This one exchange between two friends perfectly sums up an entire book whose characters leap off the page and at times seem to be writing their own stories. While these epic battles are taking place (which the reader just gets a peek at in short paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter), Mikey, Mel, and their friends are just trying to get through life as best as they can. Sure there are issues: Mel’s eating disorder, Mikey’s OCD , Jared trying to adapt to his powers and what’s expected of him, etc. but surprisingly this isn’t an issue-driven book. Rather, it’s a story about friendship, family, growing up, and discovering yourself in a sometimes scary and complex world. And finally it poses the question that maybe, just maybe, being the Chosen One is actually more normal than just trying to exist as nothing special at all.