on August 27th 2015
Genres: Young Adult
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Poking fun at the “Chosen One” trope, with a diverse group of outsiders. Mostly uneventful, but I love the concept and it is good for a few laughs.
The indie kids, huh? You’ve got them at your school, too. That group with the cool-geek haircuts and the thrift shop clothes and names from the fifties. Nice enough, never mean, but always the ones who end up being the Chosen One when the vampires come calling or when the alien queen needs the Source of All Light or something. They’re too cool to ever, ever do anything like go to prom or listen to music other than jazz while reading poetry. They’ve always got some story 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. Having said that, the indie kids do die a lot. Which must suck.
Each chapter opens with a paragraph summarizing what the indie kids are up to, but they are not the main focus. This story is about the kids who are on the sidelines while all the action is happening– the extras. One of the most fun parts of this book is seeing the craziness happening in the background through our protagonist’s eyes. The main characters are out of the loop, but their resigned attitudes about these abnormal events cracked me up.
“I wonder if realizing you’re not sure about stuff is what makes you a grown-up?” “Lots of adults seem really sure about things.” “Maybe they’re not grown-up either.”
We follow a diverse group of friends with a unique set of problems, on top of the usual high school problems: OCD, anorexia, being gay, missionary parents, and being worshiped by mountain lions. You know, the usual! The story is told through the voice of Michael, who is just trying to get through the last few months of high school unscathed. There was something superficial about the handling of these characters, which prevented me from really getting inside their heads. Still, I liked the sweet bond between them all. I also like how the author handled Michael’s issues with anxiety. (“But Michael, you’re not responsible for causing it. You’re not morally at fault for it. No more than you would be for a tumor.”)
“Now, you’re sure we’re not going to be ritualistically murdered?” Call Me Steve says, actually looking a bit nervous. “Prom night. Group of diverse teens. Remote cabin . .”
“That’s not the story that’s happening,” Mel says to him. “We’re not the kind of people that story happens to.”
The book is at its best with its gentle teasing of the “Chosen One” trope and other young adult cliches: the hipster names, oblivious adults, and convoluted love triangles. Some of my other favorite lines: “Satchel and the prince kiss again, but he respects her too much to demand more.” and “ ‘This is worse than when they were all dying beautifully of cancer,’ Henna said, and she’s right.”
What happens to you when you get older? Do you just forget everything from before you turned eighteen? Do you make yourself forget? I mean the cop was old enough to have been a teenager when the whole soul-eating ghost thing was happening, so did he just block it out of his mind? Did he talk himself into not believing it actually happened? Convince himself it was a virus, that the explosion at the old high school was a gas leak? Or is it that he thought what happened to him was so original, so life-changing and harrowing and amazing, that there’s no way he could ever imagine it happening to anyone else?…Honestly. Adults. How do they live in the world? (Or maybe that is how they live in the world.)
While the heroic indie kid Satchel is trying to defeat the Immortals and save the world, Michael is just trying to get through high school and walk the long road to self-acceptance. In the end he realizes that he has been chosen by something better than the random whims of the universe–his friends. The Rest of Us Just Live Here isn’t the most exciting story, but it isn’t supposed to be. The tone is genuine, it doesn’t condescend to its audience and it has some insightful things to say about growing up and being an adult. Despite the lack of eventfulness, this book charmed me and I will definitely be seeking out other books from this author. If you like the concept of this book, you might also enjoy The Lego Movie.
“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.”