by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published January 22nd 2013 by EgmontUSA
There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away.
That’s why they make the perfect assassins.
The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.
Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Yet the moment he lays eyes on her, he can’t make the hit. It’s as if Claire and Nix are the only people in the world for each other. And they are—because no one else ever notices them.
Ok... having read the book and written my review, I had to peak at what everyone else is saying about this book on Goodreads. There's an overwhelming number of 3 star reviews. (See my Insta-Love comment below in the "breakdown".) I hate to be just like "everyone else" but this is the right call, I think. I hopped back to my previous reviews of Every Other Day & Taken By Storm and I feel even more convinced. Barnes pushes boundaries and this book is uncomfortable. It feels like it's written for younger kids... and yet I wouldn't recommend it to any younger kids I know. Skillfully written? Yea, it is. Pleasant? Not really.
Ouch… wow… I feel like I’ve been hauled through death and back… reminding me that this author wrote Taken By Storm, didn’t she? Ouch.
Unique, innocently childlike and yet so bloody. Loaded with opposites.
The entire story creates an alternative world – our world with the additional existence of Nulls and Nobodies (& Sensors) – so realistically, I feel like watching the news to see if I can spot them. Oh… they’re real. They could be very real.
The story begins with Claire and exploring what it means to be a Nobody and not know it. Her feelings are so raw, so lonely, so neglected. I connected with her on so many levels, I was wiping tears from my eyes.
Then comes Nix and what it means to be a Nobody from The Society’s point of view. So lonely, so broken, so matter-of-fact & cold & calculating.
The story alternates seamlessly between Claire and Nix, flowing fluidly between one and the other perspective as they misinterpret each other like a pile of tangled limbs. The skill in the writing… I loved this even though I yearned for them to communicate more clearly.
Then it’s beautiful. And powerful. And explosively bright. The joy is so… big. I immediately started feeling nervous. I’ve read half of Barnes’ books and they didn’t have clean Happily Ever Afters. She’s not afraid of blood, either, and making things quite messy.
I was not disappointed.
Contradictions I liked: The flavor of the story is serious & gruesome, but the Nobodies have a sweet innocence – not that they are innocent, but there’s a large gap between reality and feeling reality. There’s a hiding place, the fade, where they watch without caring and it adds this light flavor of lightness to the bloodiest scenes. It’s as if the story always happens on two levels – reality and fade. I find myself embracing the fade, too, ‘cause reality is too heavy.
My breakdown has *spoilers* - read on at your own risk!!
Character development was a 4.5 for me. Claire and Nix are both so great.
The concept of Nobodies, Nulls & Sensors... left me unsatisfied. Like, 2. I want to know more about who they are, where they came from, etc, etc. Maybe that's comin' later, hey?
There are so many members of The Society and they all seemed flat like robots - 2. Maybe there's a reason, some brainwashing? or some purpose behind the strong loyalty?
Then the fade/Nobody stuff... I'm left hungry there, like 3.5. If I buy the whole - "we're both Nobodies and we actually give each other what we've never been able to have" concept, I can buy the Insta-Love, 'cause it's not love, or not yet, anyway. It's acceptance and fulfilled needs. But logically... more Nobodies will create a new, weird dynamics within the group. Will Claire and Nix still find completeness in each other if they find others? 'Cause that's what I'd do next, if I was them... save more of us being exploited or murdered around the world.
The romance was a 3 for me. *shrug* The better it got, the vaguer it got...
The tension was much more detailed. In fact, the opposing perspectives was a whopping 5 for me. I think Barnes nailed the idea of coming into this world from such widely different "same" points of view.
The most disappointing part for me was the predictability... and it's not just 'cause I'm such a great reader. Nix & Claire both decide what needs to happen - more than once - and then work out the details - more than once. The culmination of their plan, the detailed instruction, plus the small amount of pages left in the story, all promised to unfold... as planned. The only twist left... well, I won't say, but it seemed obvious to me and I decided that I would be mad if it happened... and mad if it didn't. And then it did-but-didn't happen. So... I closed the book happier with Barnes (than I was mid-way through*) but still raw and frustrated. What's "Raw & Frustrated"? 2.5?
*What is up with me throwing temper tantrums at Jennifer Lynn Barnes?! She really gets me riled up. Hm... I wonder if she does that on purpose?
About this author:
I'm a Jennifer who goes mostly by Jen, an Oklahoma girl who's also lived in Connecticut and England, and a writer who has a not-so-secret double life as a cognitive scientist. I love pop culture, mythology, science, superheroes, Joss Whedon, guacamole, television targeted at teenagers, and any song that I know the lyrics to. I have no sense of direction, but can read a book and shower at the same time. As is probably obvious, I do not particularly excel at writing my own bios.
I started writing professionally when I was a teenager and completed my first four published novels while I was in college. Since then, I've split my time between various graduate programs and writing books. In May 2012, I graduated from Yale University with a PhD in Developmental Psychology, which basically means I spent a lot of time thinking about the way the mind works and designing and running experiments that probe the way that young children and non-human primates view the world. My background in the psychological sciences has a habit of working its way into the books I write, sometimes in unexpected ways.
As a reader, I love strong female characters, books that blend emotional depth with sarcasm and humor, and supernatural stories that feel real. I'm a sucker for romance and search out authors who can write action sequences and violence without pulling their punches.
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