Friday, May 10, 2013

Review: Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook

Title: Nobody But Us
Author: Kristin Halbrook
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: January 29th 2013
Pages: 272
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Bought
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Bonnie and Clyde meets Simone Elkeles 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.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I was expecting Nobody But Us to be a light, fun read – something along the lines of Tokyo Heist or Pretty Crooked, a cute story with some crime on the side. But that is most definitely not what Nobody But Us is all about. It’s the story of two teens who grew up in dire circumstances, trying to escape but just running into more and more trouble. It’s heartbreaking, but I still loved it.

The characters are great. With alternating narrators, it’s always hard to make sure the two voices are actually distinct, but Kristin Halbrook did a great job with that. It’s easy to tell the two narrators apart, and they both have their own unique way of telling their stories. I can’t say I particularly liked either of them – there were times when I just wanted to shake both of them to realize how stupid they were being – but I definitely felt for them: it’s impossible not to, considering what they’ve been through. Even when I didn’t understand their reasoning, I couldn’t blame them because their pasts have scarred them and broken them in this way. I just wanted to hug them both and never let them go, to make sure nothing bad would ever happen to them again.

The suspense is great, too. I wasn’t expecting Nobody But Us to be such an action-packed novel, but with the two of them on the run from the police, it definitely has its share of action scenes. These scenes balance well with the emotional ones, making sure the reader keeps the pages turning. I especially liked how the novel doesn’t condemn any character for their actions – everyone in the novel has committed crimes and done bad things, but they’re not portrayed as bad people; it’s just the circumstances around them. Not knowing who was the good guy and who was the bad guy made the action scenes even more fascinating, and made me think about how things could possibly turn out in a way that wouldn’t be terrible for these characters.

One aspect I didn’t enjoy as much was the romance. A large part of the novel relies on the relationship between Will and Zoe; they’re running away together, from their separate pasts, to build a new life together. But the romance just didn’t work for me. Will and Zoe have only known each other for about two months, and she’s 15, while he’s 18. I know those are very superficial things to judge a relationship on, but those factors made it hard for me to take their love seriously, and to see a future for the two of them together.

Despite my issues with the romance storyline, I really enjoyed Nobody But Us. With lots of action and suspense as well as heartbreaking emotion, Nobody But Us is a great contemporary for any kind of reader.


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