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Book Review

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

This book is about Mike and his friends. However, each chapter opens with a short paragraph about what is happening to another group, known as the indies. Mike and his sister, Melody (Mel for short), live fairly ordinary lives in a small town. There are only a few weeks left until they graduate, unless of course the high school blows up again.

Even though Mike and his friends live ordinary lives, the indie kids around them always seem to be fighting some kind of supernatural turmoil. First it was undead in the woods, and then soul-eating ghosts. A few years ago it was vampires.

Now, unbeknownst to Mike and his friends, an indie kid named Finn has been killed by the Messenger of the Immortals. Mike and Mel, along with their friends Henna and Jared, were the last people to see Finn alive. He ran by them and into the woods, followed by a glowing girl. Then a bright blue light shot into the sky.

But Mike’s main concern is that he only has a few short weeks left to admit his undying love for his friend Henna, as Mike will lose this chance when they all go different ways after graduation. His best friend, Jared, a homosexual demi-god, encourages him to take the plunge and tell Henna the truth. Jared also helps Mike deal with his OCD tendencies.

Although Mike had his OCD tendencies under control, the stress of graduation, desire to talk to Henna and communication with his parents cause the disorder to flare up. Among other things, Mike compulsively washes his hands, causing his skin to crack and bleed.

Mel has also struggled with mental illness. She is anorexic. Four years ago she had a heart attack and died from complications with the disease but was brought back to life at the hospital. Although she received treatment, stress causes her to fall back into the cycle of anorexia again. Mike watches his sister carefully to make sure she is eating.

The indie kids ask for help from one of their uncles, who happens to be a police officer investigating the death of Finn. The Messenger, inside a new Vessel, is working on making a way for the arrival of the Immortals. When Finn’s body is discovered, Mike and his friends go to the police, but no one believes they really saw anything.

Another indie kid opens the Gate of the Immortals, which allows the Royal Family and its Court a way to Earth. They kill the indie kid, but not before he is able to give an amulet to another indie named Satchel. She and her friends begin to investigate the Immortals on the internet.

Her uncle is killed by the Immortals. They take over his body, as well as the rest of the police force, while they search for more permanent Vessels so they can remain on Earth.

Meanwhile, Mike is jealous of Nathan, a new student to whom Henna is attracted. It gets worse when Nathan asks to sit with them in the cafeteria. When Henna drives Mike home from school, he finally admits that he is in love with her.

Unfortunately, they hit a deer right after his confession. The deer comes through the windshield and forces the car off the road. Mike winds up with a broken nose, two black eyes, stitches on his cheek and several broken ribs. Henna has a broken arm and collarbone that require surgery. Mel gives Steve, the intern attending Mike, her number, and their mother, a politician, announces that she is going to run for Congress.

That night Mike meets Jared in the field near their house. Jared uses his supernatural gifts to heal some of Mike’s injuries. The next day, Mike returns to the scene of the accident to find his phone. While he searches under the seats, the area is bathed in the same blue light he saw before the indie boy was killed. Once the light disappears, the dead deer in the back of the car is resurrected, only now it has glowing blue eyes.

Henna agrees to go on a date with Mike. On the date, she asks if it would be OK if she kissed him. After pulling over the car, they discuss their relationship for a few minutes and then begin kissing. Satchel’s uncle, a policeman, interrupts them. He acts hostile toward them.

Police officers, all wearing sunglasses, surround their car, even though it's night. Once the officers remove their sunglasses, Mike and Henna see their eyes are glowing blue. Satchel’s uncle declares Mike and Henna are not the kids they want, and they are allowed to go.

Meanwhile, the Prince of the Immortals begins a relationship with Satchel. He promises her that he will protect her from his mother, the Empress, who wants to feed on humans.

Nathan wants his friends to paint the town bridge. It's a tradition for the sports teams and seniors to spray-paint messages on it. Mike reluctantly agrees, but only because the rest of his friends want to go. He does not trust Nathan.

While on the bridge, they are chased by several creatures with blue eyes. They escape, but Mike’s fear gets the best of him, and he accuses Nathan of leading them into danger. Henna admits that it was her idea to paint the bridge, but she did not want anyone to do it because they felt sorry for her. She asked Nathan to get the group together.

Mike’s younger sister begs to go to a concert to see her favorite band. Mike and Mel take her, but the happy memory turns tragic when the stage explodes. Mike and Mel save their sister and help another family escape the chaos. Once they are safe, they turn and see a fading blue light over the rubble. Mel punches a reporter who starts hounding her about how irresponsible their mother was for not protecting them from danger.

Mike admits to his mother that he needs help with his OCD. She understands. Even though she is campaigning and very concerned about appearances, she sends him to his former therapist, Dr. Luther.

Mike admits to the therapist that he is terrified of being away from Mel and Jared. They are the only ones who are able to break his OCD loops. He has been contemplating suicide because he feels so out of control. Dr. Luther helps him to see that his anxiety is not a moral failing, but is treatable with medication.

As Satchel stops her uncle from opening a fissure that will swallow everyone in the school gym, Mike and his friends attend prom. They go as a group, but Mel is with Steve the intern, and Mike and Henna go as a couple. Nathan and Jared also attend.

After the prom, they all head to a cabin owned by Jared’s father. The kids drink and skinny-dip in the ice-cold lake. Jared admits that he and Nathan have been seeing each other. Mike feels dumb that he is the last of their group to figure out the truth.

For a few minutes, blue lights fill the sky. Afterward, a mountain lion comes for healing since Jared is descended from the goddess of felines. The cat is too mangled from whatever caused the blue lights for Jared to heal. The creature dies in his arms.

The blue lights were caused by the Immortals performing a final ceremony to give their Empress a new body. The Prince had wanted Satchel to be the sacrifice, but she escapes before she is hurt. She and another indie named Finn (a different boy from the one killed earlier) work to close the fissures so the Immortals cannot take over Earth.

Mike and Jared have an argument about Jared’s father, who is also running for Congress. He released a tape of Mel hitting a reporter after the bombing. The two friends spew their frustrations at each other.

For the first time, Mike feels the rift between them may never heal. Mike calls Henna over to his house to talk about what happened. They have sex. Although enjoyable, they realize they are meant to be good friends, not lovers.

On graduation day, Mike and Jared talk in private. They forgive each other for the things they said. They hear moaning from the bushes and discover Finn. He has been mortally wounded. Jared taps into a power that Mike has never seen and heals Finn.

Restored, Finn runs home to retrieve something to save Satchel from the Immortals. Jared admits the gods want him to fulfill his destiny and ascend. He refused until the night he could not save the mountain lion. By healing Finn, he is bound to be a god, but can wait until after college. He offers to heal Mike of his OCD, but Mike refuses.

After the students receive their diplomas, Satchel runs from the school, warning everyone the building is going to explode. Mike and his friends watch the school burn down. Jared heals Henna’s broken arm. Finn and Satchel find Jared and thank him.

Because of him, Finn is able to save Satchel. Together they close the last fissure and beat the Immortals. The future is not as scary to Mike. He realizes that although some things end, there are always new beginnings.

Christian Beliefs

Mike and his family attend the same church as Henna, but their faith seems superficial compared to Henna’s family’s faith. Mike’s cat is named Mary Magdalene. He makes a snide comment about all the churches in his town being located near the restaurants, making salvation as easy to attain as chicken wings. Their mother calls Mel’s anorexia a blessing in disguise as it kept her from being defeated in a previous election. She says that she does not believe in evolution, at least politically. Mike’s father once told him that early Christians thought the soul was located in the stomach.

Henna’s mother is a worship leader, and her parents want to take her on a mission trip to Africa after graduation. Henna says her parents go on so many mission trips because they are trying to beat the darkness out of the world with their bare hands. Mike says her tone of voice makes it sound like a waste of time.

When Henna starts to protest going on the trip because the country is at war, her father tells her God will watch out for them because they are doing His will. At the end of the book, because she is now 18, Henna tells her parents that she will not be going with them. Some people think the Immortals may be angels.

Other Belief Systems

Although not detailed, the indie kids are seen as better and more gifted than other kids. They are able to combat the supernatural entities that attack their towns. Each generation seems to have a different enemy to battle.

Previously, the indie kids battled the undead, soul-eating ghosts and vampires. Now they’re facing Immortals who want to destroy the world. They kill animals and people, and then use the bodies as Vessels in which to live. An amulet that Satchel wears protects her, but causes holes to rip in the boundaries between Earth and the Immortals’ world.

Jared is the grandson of the Goddess of Cats. He calls himself three-quarters Jewish and one-fourth god. Cats of all kinds come to him for blessing. He calls it giving them benedictions.

The other gods eventually convince him to take on his “god role” after college and agree to give him healing powers to help the creatures of Earth, until he ascends to his realm. He tells Mike that the other gods only care about dominating each other and demanding you tell them how wonderful they are. The god of the deer did not have any control over the zombie deer that the Immortals created.

Several times Mike speaks of being lucky or things that happened were just luck or fate.

Authority Roles

Mike’s father is an alcoholic who embezzled money from his brother-in-law. He spends most of his time asleep but tells Mike he is going to go into rehab after the election. Mike’s mother is focused on becoming a career politician. Everything revolves around how her life and family look to the media. She does put aside appearances and arranges for Mike to get counseling for his OCD.


Variations of the f-word are used, along with “the bird” gesture and the euphemism WTF. God’s name is used alone and with the words oh my, d--n, thank and knows. Jesus is used as an exclamation. Christ is used with sake. S---* is used alone and with bull. H---, d--mit, and b--tard are used, as well as a-- alone and with pain in my. Other objectionable words are p---y, hard-on, jerks-off, crappy, sucks, d--k and p---.

Each chapter begins with a short, factual retelling of what happened in the lives of the indie kids. This includes violent episodes involving the Immortals killing various kids, policemen or animals. These stories are not overly graphic, more like a newspaper article. The Immortals kill Satchel’s uncle by removing his head. They reattach it somehow, and the Immortal in him wears a scarf to hide the scar.

Later, Satchel knocks off his head in order to stop him from opening a fissure that will swallow the school gym and all the prom-goers. Finn is mortally wounded by the Immortals, but Jared is able to heal him. Satchel and Finn force the fissure closed, which then blows up the school. They are able to warn people so no one is hurt in the explosion.

The Immortals cause an explosion at a crowded amphitheater. Pieces of the stage and burning curtains fly toward the audience of primarily pre-teen girls. The audience stampedes to safety. Mel punches a reporter who asks her why their mother is not at the concert, protecting them.

Henna hits a deer with her car. The car runs off the road and hits a tree. The deer comes through the roof of the car. Both Henna and Mike sustain injuries including cracked ribs, a broken collarbone and a broken arm. The mutilated carcass of the deer is brought back to life several days later by the Immortals. Its neck is broken and off angle until it snaps it back into place. It runs away on obviously broken legs.

Mike admits to his therapist that he considers suicide a viable option if he cannot stop the OCD loops he feels stuck in.


The book opens with a discussion between the friends about how the overwhelming feeling of love can make a person do irrational things. Henna says she wants to kiss Nathan, just because of an emotional response to how he looks.

Mike has repeated daydreams of kissing Henna. Their first kiss is explicitly described as well as Mike’s physical reaction to it, including an erection. They kiss again later, on his bed. She takes off his shirt.

Throughout the “indie” prologues, Satchel kisses several boys, including the Prince of the Immortals. She and the prince share several kisses, but he does not ask for anything more because he respects her.

Mel and Mike flip channels, stopping on one with a topless woman, who then strips off her shorts to reveal a G-string. She is shooting people. Mike's friends go skinny-dipping in the dark. Mike talks about dreaming about girls and looking at them online.

Mike lost his virginity with a former girlfriend. He also has had sex with a 27-year-old waitress who gave him crabs. He and Henna have sex. It is not described in detail, but Mike says he masturbates to the memory.

One of the teachers at the school is a lesbian. Jared is homosexual. Mike talks about experimenting with Jared in the past because he felt safe around him, but that he is not gay. They have messed around a few times because he says that teenage boys would have sex with anything. Jared admits to being in love with Nathan. They have been meeting in private in order to keep their relationship a secret.

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Tobacco: Nathan smokes cigarettes.

Stealing: Mike’s dad embezzled thousands of dollars from his brother-in-law’s car dealership in order to buy a house. The theft was kept quiet, and his dad kept his job, but only to keep the crime from ruining his wife’s political career.

Alcohol: Mike’s dad is a working alcoholic who spends the majority of his free time drunk in his bedroom. All the kids have a beer after the prom. Nathan gets drunk.

Tattoo: Henna gets a tattoo of her brother’s name. He was an indie who was turned into a vampire.

Illegal acts: Mike and his friends climb up to a bridge to spray-paint it.

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Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

14 and up


Patrick Ness






Record Label



HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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