Connor’s life is in turmoil. Everyday is uncertain and he is beginning to become lost inside his world. He is expecting one type of monster to rampage through his life but ends up with a much different one. This one tells him he will tell him three stories in exchange for Connor telling him one.
Connor is apprehensive, not knowing what to expect from this new force in his life. As he hears each story he realizes how to deal with another part of his world. A world that is slowly crumbling and not even a monster can stop it.
I have heard about this book for a while. It was recently made into a movie and that sparked my interest further into reading it. I knew the atmosphere of the story. I knew that Connor was dealing with his mother being sick and her inevitable death. I also knew that this was going to be a tough one to read and I was not wrong.
The atmosphere of this book is somber and haunting. I felt like I was almost in a fog while reading it. I felt his somber air hang over me as I went through the story. Connor is trying to deal with his mother’s illness, his grandmother stepping into his life, his father stepping father away from his life and the rest of those around him tip-toeing around his every move. He is lost in a fog of his own, trying to figure out what life will be like and I fell right into that same pit.
I knew where the story was going from the very beginning. You know that his mother is not going to beat her cancer. We know this is a story about dealing with that pain. I thought it was interesting how the monster tied into all of it.
The monster is a manifestation of all of Connor’s fear and frustrations. Each one of the stories is about him dealing with a piece of his life. Whether that is his grandmother and how he relates to her. Or his anger at the situation he finds himself in or the invisible feeling he has to those around him at his school.
I loved the way the stories were used to explore these ideas. One of the reasons I love books and stories so much is because they give us a way to see situations and the world around us in a new way. We get a chance to come to terms with things that can hurt or harm us. We come to term with ideas or feelings that are building up and that we can’t necessarily explain in a concise way. The monster’s stories did that for Connor. Gave him a way to deal with things he couldn’t otherwise deal with.
I also found the parts of Connor at school and how he is treated at school interesting. While he is at school his teachers and other students kind of treat him as if he is untouchable. They are all afraid of doing anything to him because they don’t want to hurt him. In the end they are shunning him, making him feel even more disconnected from the world that he already is.
I thought the way this idea was explored was done well. By trying to help they were actually hurting him worse because they left him no one to turn to. They didn’t want to upset him and yet gave him no one and nowhere to vent his frustrations and pain.
I also liked the addition of the pictures in this version as well. I thought the pictures really enhanced the story itself. They kept the atmosphere darker and most somber. It also helped me visualize the monster better.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the father’s character, which I don’t think we were supposed to be. I found it hard to believe that he would not try to be there more for his son. His son’s mother is dying and going to leave this kid all alone and he was barely there for him. He seemed more concerned about his other life while Connor was just a side issue.
Personally that bugged me because I have parents for who we (their children) are their whole world and I could never see either of them doing that. I thought it made the father shallow but then again it did enhance the grandmother’s character. We saw how caring she was. When you juxtapose the two of them you definitely come out rooting for the grandmother and are thankful for her taking care of Connor.
I can’t think of anything that stood out as a real issue for me. The story flowed well. I understood what each of the stories were about and how they connected to the rest the situations at hand. I liked the metaphor of the yew tree and the monster itself. It was quick read that was emotional, poignant and powerful.
I gave this one 5 stars on Goodreads. It was an emotional story that was told well and did the story matter justice.
“Stories are the wildest things of all. […] Stories chase and bite and hunt.” (pg. 35)
“Storis are wild creatures. […] When you let them lose, who know what havoc they might wreak?” (pg. 51)
“Belief is half of all healing. Belief in the cure, belief in the future that awaits.” (pg. 109).
“Stories are important. […] They can be more important than anything. If they carry the truth.” (pg. 141)
Not everyone gets the privilege of being the “chosen one,” or one of the “chosen ones,” sidekicks. There are people who are just trying to live their semi-normal lives in these towns or worlds. They also have stories of their own, which is what The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness is about. It is not a story set from the hero’s POV. It is about all those people who surround them and how they are trying to live their own lives.
Mikey is our main protagonist. Mikey is just a normal teenager who is trying to get through to graduation. He wants to ask out a girl he has had a crush on for a while. He wants his family to fix their own problems and he wants to hang out with his friends before they all move onto the next stage of their lives. Unfortunately he lives in a town where strange things are constantly happening. These events affect him slightly but nothing major.
I was intrigued by the concept of this story. I have read numerous books about the “chosen one.” I know how their story usually goes. I know how to see life from their POV. I liked the idea of getting to see how everyone else views these events and how they are trying to keep their lives as normal as possible. I was expecting to read about a group of friends trying to keep themselves safe while also living lives that mean something to them. What I got was more of a meandering through Mikey’s life. It was almost like we just followed him around for a while. Not much actually happened.
In the book each chapter starts with a small paragraph about what is going on with the “chosen ones.” We get to have some context of the two versions of life in this town. Unfortunately I found myself more interested in what was happening with those kids then with Mikey and his friends.
None of the characters felt very alive to me. They were all surface level. We didn’t dive too far into anyone or any part of their lives. There is a sort of tagline on the front of the book that says: “Sometimes you have to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.” The problem was I never found that in any of the characters. They all remained pretty ordinary and nothing really pulled them out into the spotlight for me.
Even Jared who could communicate with cats was not developed very far. I wanted to find myself enthralled by these people. I wanted them to jump out and show that you don’t need powers or destinies to have an amazing life. What I got was what I would assume of the side people in these stories. Just people living their lives and surviving. This very well may have been the intent of the story but I found myself getting a bit bored at parts.
I will say that I thought the way OCD/anxiety and anorexia were handled in the story was very well done. They are not the main issues the characters dealt with but they are mentioned and I thought they were represented well. There was one chapter which was Mikey having a conversation with his therapist that felt very real and poignant to me.
In the end I wanted more from this book than I got. I wanted a story of adventure from the more ordinary person’s POV. I wanted to be given characters who shined despite not living in a world where they were meant to shine. I may have gotten my expectations too high; it was a fun book just not what I was hoping for.
My birthday was in November and I got a few gift cards to Barnes and Noble, which means I got a nice amount of new books! Now, I have zero self-control when it comes to book shopping. I wanted to try to only spend the gift cards but that didn’t happen. I just get absorbed into the shelves and find myself with a pile of books in my arms before too long. Here are the books I will be adding to my shelves.
Vicious – V.E. Schwab – This is the one I am currently reading. I have read V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series and loved it. I also loved This Savage Song. I’ve heard great things about her first book and I was eager to get my hands on it. I am about 3/4 of the way through it and I am loving it! I will have a review up once I finish it.
The Magicians – Lev Grossman – I know this series just became a tv series but I had heard about it in passing before that. This is just one that I see on recommendation lists periodically and I have always been slightly intrigued. I may start reading this after Christmas because it is part of a series and I need to stall my spending until after my bank account recovered from Christmas and if I like the first book in a series I have to continue with the series. I can’t just read the first book and then other books in between. I have to read what I can of a series all at once.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness– This concept of this one intrigued me. It is about all the other characters in the adventure stories that aren’t the “Chosen One.” It seems interesting and a fun read.
Ink and Bone – Rachel Caine – I have no idea where I first heard of this one but the story concept grabbed me right away. It is about a time when The Great Library of Alexandria is still around. It controls all knowledge and the owning of books is illegal (one of my nightmares). It is about a boy trying to take this organization down. I love the idea but it is another one that is part of a series so that may end up on the back of my reading list until after Christmas.
We Are the Ants – Shaun David Hutchinson – This is another one that I can’t quite remember where I heard about it. It is about a boy who is given the chance to either destroy the planet or save it. It is up to him to determine if the world and his life are worth saving. I thought it sounded like one that will make me think as I read it. I love books that make me question and put me in moral dilemmas so this should be an interesting read.
The View from the Cheap Seats – Selected Nonfiction – Neil Gaiman – This one my mom actually found while we were wandering around the bookstore. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and this book has a number of his essays on a range of topics. This is the only nonfiction book I bought but I am hoping it gives me some inspiration or at least lets me learn more about one of my favorite authors.
Genius: The Game – Leopoldo Gout – This one I saw on the shelf and was instantly attracted to it. The cover pulled me in. It has a pretty simple summary, a number of geniuses are brought together to play a game that will have world wide effects. I like the idea of a mind game. Not sure what to expect from this one but I am excited to read it.
So these are some of my new books. Have you read any of these? If so what do you think of them? Have you bought any new books recently?