I was given the task of reviewing two critically acclaimed books for the Tournament this year. Critics, as well as our previous reviewers, have raved over them. Bone Gap was the winner of the distinguished Printz Award. Imagine my distress, when I found, unfortunately, I didn’t exactly love either book.
Bone Gap, is the haunting tale of two brothers, the foreign girl who simultaneously connects them and pulls them further apart, and her mysterious disappearance. It is a tale of appearances, family, friendship and love – in many forms. Laura Ruby slowly sets up the story of Roza’s disappearance, and takes the time to build the characters. We come to know the quirky characters in this small town. Finn, Sean, Petey and the rest, are fully developed people that almost jump off the page. Roza, the visitor, is a bit more complex. The magical realism devices the author uses, and the interweaving of past and present, make it a bit more difficult to relate to her as a character. The book is beautifully written and explores relationships in a way that feels fresh. While I appreciate the author’s writing style, and I can understand the acclaim that the book received, it left me feeling a bit flat. The slow build-up made it difficult to get into, and the story didn’t stay with me after the last page was turned.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a book that I was hugely excited to read, as I have been a fan of Patrick Ness for years. The concept of this story, which focuses on the blurry secondary characters, is a fantastic one. We can’t all be superheroes, but we can all live heroically. It became clear upon reading this story that much of the set-up is a nod to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Being the superfan that I am, I thought this was ingenious.
Jared from The Rest of Us Just Live Here:
“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.”
Xander from Season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
“They’ll never know how tough it is, Dawnie. To be the one who isn’t chosen. To live so near to the spotlight and never step in it. But I know. I see more than anybody realizes because nobody’s watching me. I saw you last night. I see you working here today. You’re not special. You’re extraordinary.”
I think most readers can relate to these quotes, and to a further extent, to these characters. We know the kid with anxiety issues. We know the kid who is afraid to admit his crush to a friend. We know the kid with body issues. However, that being said, focusing on the secondary characters can sometimes be a bit, well…boring. That was a bit of a let-down.
While both books were technically flawless, neither book honestly excited me. At the end of the day, The Rest of Us Still Live Here slightly edged out Bone Gap because of the relatability of the characters.
Not an easy choice, but The Rest of Us Still Live Here wins this round.
WINNER: THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE BY PATRICK NESS
Reviewed by Rebekah Raleigh, McHenry Public Library District