Patrick Ness – The Rest Of Us Just Live Here (4 stars)

Charming tale of a teenage boy told against a background of apocalypse

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Patrick Ness – The Rest Of Us Just Live Here

From Buffy to The Hunger Games, 'chosen one' tales predominate fantasy fiction. Patrick Ness's latest is an antidote to this vein of storytelling, and a charming one at that.

Mikey's an 'ordinary' guy at a high school with a few extraordinary students. All he, his sister and their best friends want to do is get through their last few months and graduate, free of drama. But as weird lights begin to shine from the sky, and dead animals mysteriously come back to life, the apocalypse looks disarmingly close.

The novel's Buffy-like events are peripheral to Mikey's tale, Ness confining them to short synopses at the start of each chapter. Instead, he focuses on Mikey's issues: his neglectful parents, his love for his sisters, his yearning after one best friend and his fear of growing distant from the other after high school.

Just like in More Than This and his acclaimed Chaos Walking trilogy, Ness shows he's a master at creating nuanced, rounded male protagonists and captivating tales with realistic young characters. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is an excellent addition to his canon.

Out now, published by Walker Books.

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