Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook

Title: Nobody But Us (ARC)
Release Date: January 29th, 2013
Author: Kristin Halbrook
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 272
My Rating: 2.5 TURTLES: An okay read. It had its ups and downs, more downs though. Probably don't recommend.


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


Nobody But Us was one of those books that I had no idea how I felt about it after I finished it. Towards the beginning I was thinking about giving it a fairly high rating, but as I kept reading, my rating kept going down. It’s sad because there were many elements in the story that I liked and even applauded. But in the end, the way it was written made me feel I couldn’t give it a very high rating.

I really appreciated the gritty, blunt way that Kristin Halbrook shows us the characters’ backstories. We learn about the horrors they have faced growing up and gives us context for things like Will’s violence. While of course this doesn’t justify his actions, it inspires a pity towards him that would not have been there otherwise. She created two very complex characters, and because of the alternating narratives, we get to see the inner workings of their minds.

For what I did not like about this book, let me first say that I don’t know who wrote the synopsis, but there was almost nothing in common with this book and If I Stay. The only similarity I see is that there is a girl who has a lot of trauma and is trying to come to terms with it. The circumstances are completely different though, so really in that respect it could be compared to a million different books. If you are looking at this book just because of that comparison – I know that was one reason why I was excited to read it – let me tell you now, Nobody But Us is nothing like If I Stay. The Bonnie and Clyde part is pretty accurate though.

If the author had meant this book to be more of a tough portrait of two troubled people who are fighting against a world that never gave them a fair chance, I think I would have enjoyed it much more. As it was it felt like a romanticized unhealthy relationship, which was my biggest problem with the book. I know it is unlikely the characters had enough insight themselves to realize how dysfunctional, unhealthy, and even illegal their relationship was, but if emphasizing that had been an important part of the book, the point would have gotten across.

This book either intentionally or inadvertently poses some interesting questions like what happens to foster kids when they turn eighteen and are ‘kicked off the state’? Or what is the price of staying silent versus speaking out? I admired this because I think they are important topics, but they are breezed over with the plot of two haunted individuals trying to fix each other while leaving a trail of crimes behind them on their train-wreck of a road to freedom.

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