Friday, July 26, 2013

Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
So, this book had so many things going for it. The summary sounded epic. The cover is awesome. And Jennifer Lynn Barnes is pretty amazing at writing strong female main characters who I love. Unfortunately, things fell a little short for me.
The premise was different. Though, there does seem to be an invisibility theme going down this year. I liked the idea that some people are just born to not stand out. There’s nothing really wrong with Claire. She was just born with an invisibility defect of sorts that prevented people from really noticing her. I really loved getting to see how awful this made things. She got left places and forgotten by her parents all the time. No one ever heard her speak. She never got things like towels (at the pool) because no one ever knew she asked for one.
I kind of wish I got to see more of these situations. I got to see the pool thing, but the others were just summarized stories that felt like things that were supposed to make me feel empathy for the main character, and not actual events. And because of all these summarized moments I never got to really see, I never really bonded with Claire.
And then Nix’s story is supposed to be even more sad. Unlike Claire, he was brought up knowing about what he was. He was trained, tortured, experimented on, and forced into becoming an assassin, because like the summary says, whose better at killing people than someone who no one can see? And While I found Nix’s story really interesting (what’s not interesting about teenage assassin whose sent to kill senators?), I never really cared for him that much either. And like with Claire, his past was summarized. I never saw him being tortured or experimented on. I just knew it was bad. I get that Nix isn’t the type of character to dwell on his past, but still –a little more character development would have helped lots.
I loved the story. I liked the idea of the nobodies and the nulls. And I found the whole energy/science/subterfuge aspects to be the best parts of the book. It was un-put-down-able in parts because of this. I wanted answers just as much as Claire and Nix. And being a librarian, I really wanted to help explain to them how to do better library searches during a particular scene. I also cringed when Claire stole so many library books. (And would a girl who loves libraries and books so much, really steal from a library?)
I think another big reason I never really liked Claire or Nix was that it’s so hard to like such self-hating characters. Nix was always telling himself he was nothing and no one could ever care for him. And Claire had just gotten so used to not being seen. I tend to like stronger, more confident characters. And while the confidence of both characters increased as the book went on, it was never quite enough for me. They both seemed rather sad for most of the book.
And then of course the two characters also have an instant connection. Though, I was kind of expecting this from the summary. And I’ve really enjoyed how this author has written love (even a bit of the instant love) in the past, it just wasn’t working for me here. It never really felt like love to me; it was more about how no one else noticed and less about how each of them did. And I kind of feel like a real romance/relationship should be built on more than just the fact that the couple notices each other, even when the whole rest of the world can’t see.
All in all, the characters came off kind of weak. Too many scenes were summarized. I wanted to see more of the characters’ lives, and without seeing them, I never really empathized with them. The romance was of the instant variety, and not handled that well. But, the story and the idea of nobodies kept me interested until the end. I needed to know how things would turn out. And I did like the stand-alone-feel I got from this one. This book was not my favorite, though I have loved other books by this author. I give it a 6/10.

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