#CJSReads2017 – Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

Let’s kick off the #CJSReads October list with some Colleen Hoover!

Thanks to Atria Books for the advanced copies in exchange for our honest reviews.

WITHOUT MERIT by Colleen Hoover (out today!)

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Chandra’s Thoughts: 5/5 stars

Well well well.. what have we here??? I have avoided Colleen Hoover for AGES. I keep hearing she’s wonderful. I keep hearing I HAVE to read her books. I read ONE (well technically three, since there were three separate parts) book of hers that she did a collaboration with and it was just OK. I have a couple of her books on my shelf and on my Kindle but SOMETHING kept me from opening page one of any of them. Why? Why did I wait so long? This book is fantastic. And at the expense of not sounding like my age, IT GAVE ME ALL THE FEELS.

How do you write a review about this without giving away any spoilers? Well, I’m going to do my best so read on with no worries. Merit is a high school drop out who lives in a house with a dysfunctional family. Her father, his new wife, his ex-wife, her twin sister, her twin sister’s boyfriend and her brother. Did you catch all that? As the synopsis states, she reveals some dark secrets that have been plaguing her for quite some time before leaving her family behind. Things, as usual, never go according to plan and now she has to deal with the repercussions.

Look, I expected pure romance from this book as that is what I have heard a lot about this Hoover woman. What I got was a book told through the eyes of Merit. A teenager dealing with always feeling like an outsider, even in her own family, and not feeling wanted by anyone. She struggles daily with not caring to not caring about not caring until she ultimately explodes. Hoover brings mental health, depression, suicide and teen angst to the fore front and does it in a humorous and loving way. I had some laugh out loud moments, some moments where my eyes threatened to leak and then feeling my black heart swell a bit as we realize everyone is human. No one is perfect and we all struggle with things. Some just deal with things differently than others. Ultimately we have a story about family – dysfunctional maybe, but one where love prevails. Dammit, Hoover, now I’m going to have to read your other books. Sigh….. And by the way guys, her dedication and acknowledgements are just as cute as she is. I’ve been sucked in by this Hoover. Done. ❤

Sam’s Thoughts: 4/5 stars

Colleen Hoover is one of those guilty pleasure authors that I pick up whenever I just need to be completely lost in a story and am not looking for anything too heavy or anything too complex.  Pure entertainment value is what I am looking for and, Without Merit, the newest novel by Colleen Hoover certainly delivers.

The novel opens and we meet the Voss family, who is anything but normal.  We meet twin sisters, Honor (who is obsessed with dating boys with terminal illnesses) and Merit (who collects trophies anytime anything bad happens to her).  They live with their father (Barnaby), their father’s mistress turned baby mama, turned wife (Victoria).  Their mother, who is an agoraphobic and never leaves the basement.  Their brother, Utah, who is hiding several secrets, Honor’s newest boyfriend, Sagan and Victoria’s brother, Luck, who turns up to add another layer to the plot.

It is hard to even pin point what this novel is actually about.  In typical CoHo style, there is a bit of contemporary romance, some messages about family, suicide, loss, and grief.  Many hats are worn during the reading of this novel.  Personally, I felt like it read a little bit more like a YA novel then I would have liked.  I prefer something a little bit more mature, but regardless of my feelings about that, I cannot deny the completely addicting nature of this book.

I picked it up to read and consumed it in a matter of hours.  I couldn’t put it down.

If you are a fan of Colleen Hoover, then this one is a no-brainer.  If you are a fan of books that read like YA, then I think you will enjoy this one too!

My Thoughts: 5/5 stars

I’m ashamed to say that this is my first time reading Colleen Hoover. I’m so mad that it’s taken me so long! I went into WITHOUT MERIT blindly and I’m so glad that I did. I truly got to be pulled in by Hoover and I loved it!

This is a hard one to review without giving away any spoilers, so I’ll give you the basics. We meet the Voss family, they aren’t exactly your typical or picture perfect family. Everyone in the family is quirky in their own way. We meet twin sisters, Honor and Merit (our narrator), their father, his ex-wife (the agoraphobic living in the basement), his mistress turned wife (Victoria), their brother, and then Honor’s boyfriend and Victoria’s brother join in later on. Sounds like a mess, right?

This story is told through the eyes of teenager Merit. Her struggles and feelings of being unwanted or not good enough when compared to her siblings. There are some dark secrets that come to light before she decides to leave her family – but nothing ever goes according to plan. Hoover does a great job focusing on topics such as depression, suicide, and mental health, but she does it in a lighthearted and humorous way.

Overall, this does have a YA type feel to it, which is partly due to the narrator being a teenager. While I’m not one to having any overly emotional reactions to books, I have seen from other reviewers that there were tears and lots of laughs. If you want a book that you will find yourself fully immersed in, then I’d highly recommend picking up WITHOUT MERIT. I’ll be grabbing Hoover’s other books for sure.

 

What other Colleen Hoover books should I pick up next?

–Jess

 

 

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