Wednesday, December 13, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

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Title: Without Merit
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Pub Date: October 03, 2017
Publisher: Atria Books
Book Source: Personal collection
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars



**POSSIBLE SPOILERS**

Synopsis:  Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness. 
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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Colleen Hoover is perfect. There really is just no question about it. Her books always floor the hell out of me! This book was, of course, no exception!

This book covers a lot of subjects. I will admit, at first I found it to be too much, BUT Colleen really pulled it all together near the end and everything will make sense by the time you finish the book.

Colleen also scared me at first with this book. I was worried I was going to hate it because she made Merit's father an atheist. HEAR ME OUT. Her father was villainized at first. He was absent and cynical. He cheated on her mother who had cancer and left her for another woman. He stole a church. He hated a dog. He did a lot of things that seemed asshole-ish. Well, him being an atheist and an asshole did not sit well with me. I am an atheist. It bothered me to see someone being villainized AND an atheist; like all atheists are bad people. Granted, this is a totally personal thing. Anyway... Everything her father does MAKES SENSE in the end. There are reasons for the things he's done, and Merit doesn't know the whole story. Her father is slightly misunderstood. We find out A LOT of things that really transform him into a really great father and character overall. So, this sort of leads me to my next point:

This book is packed with diversity. An atheist, first of all. Yes. I like this. I want more of this. Also, sexuality. Not just gay/lesbian, either. There is a more complex character with a more complex sexul identity. I loved this. Finally, Sagan is Syrian. There is a small spotlight put on the Syrian refugee crisis and I enjoyed this as well. It gave a perspective that some don't understand.

The characters.

Let me talk about Merit herself for a moment. Merit is someone you may not like at first. She is always negative, feels sorry for herself, and is just a downer in general. This is all a part of her mental illness. I wasn't aware, when going into this, that the book was heavily centered on the subject of depression. Merit is depressed. It is a real mental illness and I always appreciate a book that portrays it properly. Colleen did this, of course. It was almost subtle. Merit was just increasingly feeling awful mentally and just couldn't get into a good headspace. Her mental illness comes to a head eventually and Merit really transforms as a character. I loved going with her on this journey. It was definitely an emotional one.

Sagan was a mystery to me for at least half of the book. I enjoyed trying to figure him out. His intentions were never quite clear, and Merit struggled with this as well. Sagan is an artist—I liked this. I also appreciated that there was a certain darkness to his artwork. The romance is a little different, but in a good way. There were a lot of questions, but it kept me on the edge of my seat and just wanting more. As with most of the subjects in this novel, it all comes together and makes perfect sense in the end.

Also of note: Merit is a twin. Her twin, Honor, plays a decent role in the book as well. I liked her character and I think she contributed a lot to the story.

Overall: This book was fantastic! Prepare for a lot of different sub-plots, but fear not, it is done well. The characters are so unique and very relatable. The romance is angsty and very different from what I normally expect from Colleen Hoover, but it was wonderfully done. The diversity is real with this book, and that is always a plus. Prepare yourself for some possibly triggering issues, such as depression, suicide, and abuse. Also prepare yourself for some humor. Colleen breaks up the serious nature of the book with small reprieves that'll make you laugh-out-loud. The tough subjects are all written tastefully and will capture you as a reader. I recommend this book and anything by this author, 100%!
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