Sunday, February 10, 2013

Novel Review: Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance (ARC)
Rating (Out of 5): 4
Publisher: HarperCollins (HarperTeen)
Spoilers?: Some.
Available on: Amazon.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Bonnie and Clyde meets IF I STAY in this addictively heart-wrenching story of two desperate teenagers on the run from their pasts.

They’re young. They’re in love. They’re on the run.

Zoe wants to save Will as much as Will wants to save Zoe. When Will turns eighteen, they decide to run away together. But they never expected their escape to be so fraught with danger....

When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can’t run fast enough.

Nobody But Us, told in alternating perspectives from Will and Zoe, is an unflinching novel, in turns heartbreaking and hopeful, about survival, choices, and love...and how having love doesn’t always mean that you get a happy ending. Described as “beautiful, heartbreaking, and exhilarating” by Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF, Nobody But Us will prove irresistible to fans of Nina Lacour, Jenny Han, and Sara Zarr.

Something Specific:

  •  "They say you end up with the men who are just like your dad. Right? That you're psychologically predisposed to picking an alcoholic or a cheat or an abandoner, or something like that. I always thought psychology was weird."  (ARC, pg. 73) I thought this was just an interesting thought, something that I have heard before, and something that definitely means a lot for her.
  • "'There will never be hitting between us. Ever.'" (ARC, pg. 194) This means a lot between them, but I just liked the equality in the sentiment, that neither the girl nor boy in the relationship should be hitting the other one.


This was not what I expected. Partly in a good way, and partly not so good.
I wasn’t quite sure what kind of relationship these two characters had what I started, although I’d heard some very not good things about it, so I was a bit wary, and went in a little bit prepared.
So, there’s Will and Zoe, and they’re in love, and they’re on the run. The book starts immediately with them running away, Will picking her up and Zoe sneaking out her window. It gets right into the action, that’s for sure. It doesn’t take long to realize what’s wrong with the two, what they’re running from and why, either.
Will is in the foster system, and he just turned eighteen. He’s had some very bad experiences with foster families, one that left him scarred and not for a reason you’d expect. And he’s a little unstable.
Zoe has a very bad home life, and she wants to get away from it. So when Will decides that he’s going to move away, now that he’s eighteen and has a car, he asks Zoe, who is only fifteen, to go with him. And she loves him so much that she says yes.
So they’re on the run. Will is more aware of what that means at first, and so is more paranoid. And they both end up making some very bad choices because they want the best for each other so badly that they would do anything to get it.
I wasn’t expecting them to be easily in love and enjoying themselves all the time, but I also wasn’t expecting their love to be as toxic as it is. I’ve read arguments about how this book isn’t a love story. And I disagree with that. It is a love story. Only, it’s a broken love story about a very toxic relationship. Because Zoe and Will are not good for each other, but they do love each other.
That’s not to say that they wouldn’t have been good for each other, had they had the opportunity to grow up first, grow into themselves and maybe get away from the people they’re living with while away from each other, and once Will had gotten some help. But they didn’t have any of that. And so it turned out very bad for them.
And it was bad. Will needs some serious help, particularly with his anger issues. And while some decisions became expected on his part, because you knew that he wasn't in his right mind a lot of the time, it made me grimace when Zoe decided to do the things she did. Some of them were just stupid and some were bad for a different reason.
I actually really enjoyed this book. It was sad and depressing. It was like watching a car crash or something similar. You knew, the entire time, that this wasn’t going to turn out very well, but you didn’t know how badly. Some people might have wanted to look away, but I didn’t. I wanted to know what happened.
This isn’t the type of story that some people want to read, given how depressing and crushing it can be, but that’s exactly the type of story that other people do like. I am one of the people that do like it.
My only real bad point about this is that something about the characters didn’t feel quite as rounded or believable as it could have. Maybe a little more work and it would have been better. But even saying that, I did like them and did feel some strong emotions for them. While it was obvious that Will needed some help, it was also very apparent that Zoe was only fifteen at points as well.
Oh, we also got glimpses of their friends and family, and I don't really feel like there was enough to form a good idea of who any of them. I just feel like the scenes with them could have been opened up a little bit more.
I did like the writing quite a bit. The story is told from alternating points of view, and each character had a very definite way of talking. Particularly Will, who doesn't have the best grammar. Even while some of the way he talked annoyed me, it did feel realistic for his character.
The ending was horrible, and I was hoping that it wasn’t going to happen, but it did. And it’s terribly sad and upsetting. Not only sad for Will, but sad for Zoe. I’m left wondering what’s going to happen to her, how badly that is going to mess her up. (Not wondering in the way that this needs a sequel, 'cause I don't think it does. That ending ended things pretty well for me.) And that Will didn’t really deserve it; he could have gotten help.
That’s all I’m going to say on that; I don’t want to give away any more.      
So, some people will like it and some people won’t. I did, and it’s a pretty solid four stars from.
Sidenote: This has been compared to Bonnie and Clyde and If I Stay. I've never seen Bonnie and Clyde, but this does sound similar to what I have heard about it. Don't take my word for it, though. And I wouldn't compare this to If I Stay. I loved If I Stay, and this story is barely anything like it. Maybe, lightly, when it comes to the writing. But story-wise? Not really, no.
Sidenote2: I actually kind of like the cover, and think it fits really well, but does the female model look like Taylor Swift to anyone else? Because every time I look at her, that's who I think of.

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