The worldbuilding here is wonderful. Through the chapter titles we are told a parallel tale of the fight between Satchel, an Indie kid, and The Immortals, strange beings bent on taking over the world, one host at a time.
"Chapter the Second, in which indie kid Satchel writes a poem, and her mom and dad giver her loving space to just feel what she needs to; then an indie kid called Dylan arrives at her house, terrified, to say a mysterious glowing girl has informed him of the death of indie kid Finn; Satchel and Dylan comfort each other, platonically."
There are also mentions throughout the text of things like 'that time the kids were all dying beautifully of cancer' or how Indie kids never seem to use the Internet and are always flipping through the card catalogue. The only complaint that I have is that I wanted MORE! Intense break up scenes in the restaurant every night, a new kid moving in once a week and falling in insta-love with the least likely person, wildly inappropriate declarations of love in public places, groups of teens obsessively waiting on the next big trend and arguing the merits of vampires vs werewolves vs zombies.
Against this backdrop, we have the quirky, but fairly normal story of Mikey and his friends as they just try to survive the latests attack and figure out where they stand with each other as the prepare to separate for the first time. Mike not only has to deal with his feelings for Henna, but also the arrival of a strange new kid who seems to have divided her attention. While Mike is certainly not the kid of character we LOVE, he is the kid of character we root for and he is real. One of my favorite parts of the novel was the exploration of Mikey's anxiety and OCD. He speaks about getting stuck in loops, doing something over and over again until he gets it 'right' (even though even he can't say what 'right' is). He also talks about how scared he is and how going back on medication feels like a failure. There are far too few novels that show the reality behind mental illness and that it is not just something that can be worked through by the end of the book. Mikey is really afraid of his illness and what it might cause him to do and he talks about it, he seeks help and he makes steps towards getting better.
The romance between Mike and Henna is sweet, but where this book really shines is in the group dynamics. They are such a great cast of characters and they mesh so well together than they make me wish I had friends like that in high school (albeit I could skip the whole apocalypse every couple of years part). I do wish that we had alternating narrators between the four main characters as I would have loved to see their take on this world as allow for the female characters to be fleshed out a little more as they did tend to fall a little flat compared to Mike and Jared.
Bottom Line: The Rest of Us Just Live Here has a fantastic premise and executes it fairly well. The story it tells is not the exciting I-Saved-The-World story, but it is an interesting and important one. Here's hoping little sister Meredith has her own story to tell in another book.