Review Blog

Mar 08 2013

Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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Egmont USA, 2013. ISBN 9781606843215 Hardback.
(Ages: 14+ ) Highly recommended. Family dysfunction. Suspense. Romance. Discrimination.
I like Jennifer Lynn Barnes's writing style and the way she doesn't fit neatly into any one genre. Her first series of books was about werewolves (Raised by Wolves). Last year she published one called Every Other Day, an action thriller in which her main character fought demons from the underworld of hell, and 'every other day' was a vulnerable human girl. It was a genius premise, and Kali's determination and ferociousness about protecting people was really well written.
And now we have Nobody. I don't know what genre to apply to it. It starts off as an assassin book (Nix is ordered to kill Claire for reasons unknown), it quickly morphs into damaged-teens-find-each-other-and-bond story (Claire is lonely and Nix is being manipulated), then they are on the run (this part of the story is pure adrenalin), and of course there is a bit of romance, a bit of conspiracy theory, and a bit of exposing-the-baddies-for-who-they-are. Ultimately it's a happy-ever-after story (thank goodness).
The main two characters, Claire and Nix, both narrate. Claire is a lost and lonely 16 year old, who at times believes she is invisible. Initially this is hard for readers to accept. Would even her parents forget who she is? But Barnes is a deft writer who makes us believe in Nobodies, Sensors, and Normals. Part of Claire's and Nix's skill is to physically disappear, 'fly', and reappear somewhere else entirely. This element moves the novel into sci-fi, but otherwise the kids live in a fairly ordinary world. The book is often repetitive with the two kids telling themselves over and over that 'I am nothing. I am nobody'. Initially it is degrading and weighs them down, but eventually readers come to realise that this mantra lifts and inspires them. Their 'nothingness' gives them power and control in a world that has only used and discarded them. This is highly empowering.
I like books that are quirky and original. Nobody certainly fits into that category. It is also well written, with two protagonists who are able to become world-savers when they find each other and let themselves care and love.
Trisha Buckley

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