Book Reviews, Young Adult

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover | Book Review

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Title: Without Merit

Author: Colleen Hoover

Series: N/A

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Mental Health

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication date: October 3rd, 2017

Pages: 384

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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.

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“Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.”

Ugh, I cannot tell you how sad I am about this book because THE FIRST HALF DESERVED LIKE 4-5 STARS! But then the second part happened, and it went completely downhill to me. Quite literally.

As you may or may not Colleen Hoover is one of my favourite authors, and an auto-buy one to me. I know her books tend to be a bit problematic sometimes, and there’s been a bit of a buzz because of that lately on social medias, but nonetheless I still enjoyed and had a great time reading them. So needless to say I was pretty excited about her upcoming novel. The premise sounded like something I would totally love, and well, at the beginning I did. But then the story took and new path and my brain was like “nope“.

This review will contain a few spoilers because I want to talk about some things, and they indeed are spoilers, because they happened mostly in the middle of the book.

“It’s like we don’t even have parents. We have a mother living in our basement and a father living in his own world. No one has a clue what’s going on with anyone around here.”

Like I said before, the first half was incredible, and I really enjoyed the whole plot. Our main character Merit suffered from a quite severe depression, and even though it’s not adress at the beginning you could clearly see that. Throughout the story you could feel her desperation, anger and how deeply depressed she was in her everyday life, and how terrible her relationship with her family was. There were a lot of things unsaid between them, and secrets, and the tone of the story was so well done because you could feel Merit’s desolation and depression, as it was told by her POV.

I very much enjoyed all of the characters, and despite the love story being a bit insta love-y, it was a very good story. I found the love interest quite interesting, and their interactions and relationship well done.

“Your emotions and reactions are valid, Merit. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. You’re the only one who feels them.”

And now you may think: “well, Nia, if you said you loved the story that much, why not give it 5 stars?” And let me answer that. Merit wrote a letter in the middle of the book that spilled all her family’s secrets, and there was one particular one that was so cringy and bad that made me immediatly hate where the story went.

I couldn’t honestly grasp the reason why the only LGBT+ representation that she introduced to this story could kiss her little sister just to see if he was indeed gay or not. Like what? Weren’t other girls besides her? I think the author could have done that completely different instead of the way she did, because honestly, condemning one of the two gay characters like that? Not cool. And talking with other people about that, we all came to the same conclusion: it could really be offensive. Hell, tell me I’m not crazy in there.

Another thing I noticed from the half of the book until the very end, and that’s how the tone of the story changed. I’ve said how at the beginning the writing had a very dark vibe, and you could feel the desperation and sadness our main character had. Well, that completely changed once she started to get along with her family and solving some of the problems she had with them. And that’s not how it works. Depression does not go away like that. Even if you started to get along with your family again, and the problems you had with them “suddenly” disappear, you still have depression and you need help (and even more after a suicide attempt. And that’s something that the atuhor didn’t do well, in my opinion, along with some things regarding Merit’s mom.

So overall, despite loving the first part of the book that much, I decided to give this book 3 stars because the book went downhill to me from the middle of the book, and sadly there were some things that weren’t really well developed that could be offensive.

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