I’m the first to admit that I’m a relatively new fan of Colleen Hoover’s. I stumbled into one of her books a few years ago and fell instantly in love. It led me to the deep anticipation of the Fall of every year when she tends to release a new book for the public.
I was no less excited when it was announced that WITHOUT MERIT was due this Fall. Unfortunately, I’m a little underwhelmed. Trust me, I’m really bummed.
RELEASE DATE: October 2017
PUBLISHER: Atira Publishing
DISCLAIMER: Novel sent via NetGallery in exchange for a honest review.
SYNOPSIS: The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.
Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.
Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.
REVIEW: At it’s core, the novel’s synopsis is pretty good. It’s what learned me in. But sometimes, the execution can stumble in a few points until you realize that you’ve ‘stumbled’ through half the novel.
Merit is at the centre of the ever busy and eccentric Voss family. Twin to a beautiful and stunning other half, Merit feels lost and abandoned within her family. Brought home by her ‘perfect sister’ is Sagan, the first man to ever truly sweep Merit off her feet … but unfortunately, he’s completely unavailable, tangled up in her more perfect sister. While watching her family life soar off the rails, Merit decides to take a swift exit and bring the family down with her. After setting off ‘explosions’ that ripple through the fabric of her family, Merit’s exit plan doesn’t work out … and now she’s stuck in the middle of the consequences she thought she’d be long gone and never have to experience. Now, Merit has to stand up for herself and the crisis she’s created before it tears both her and her family apart.
I cleared everything off my shelf to read this novel when it came in. While I did devour it, like I said, I felt it stumbled a lot. After two remarkable novels back to back (check out November 11th and It Ends With Us), I really expected a lot. It turned out that this novel went more YA centric than anticipated. Some issues:
- The names are DUMB. I’m sorry. The names of the characters were so cringeworthy that it distracted from the novel.
- The random brother in law that shows up and truly doesn’t provide any real narrative or purpose to the story.
- Some odd growing pains (i.e. maybe it’s okay to sleep with my uncle?) thoughts
- Clumsy narrative
I felt that this novel fell really short and I think it’s because I had such high expectations. To be honest, the whole thing felt unrealistic to me (with the exception of depression, incest *trigger warning*, bullying, etc – these happen in every day life). Something just didn’t jive. Merit’s and Sagan’s love story didn’t feel legit. Merit’s world didn’t seem legit. When it came down to it, I simply didn’t buy this story.
Apologies, and happy reading.