Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday Reads: Nobody But Us

Every Wednesday (or most Wednesdays, or some Wednesdays) will bring you book reviews. Of a special variety. Yes, I am telling you which books are awesome and totally worth reading. But the point of my reviews is to hopefully make you conscious of the market and why this particular book was published: quality of writing, character and plot development, unique quirks of writing, characters, and plot that make it stand out. Take my tips to your own reading and writing, and through Constant Vigilance, will you succeed as a writer.

Nobody But Us is Kristin Halbrook's debut YA novel (by the way, Kristin is a pretty darn cool lady).

Synopsis: From the synopsis of any book you read, you can teach yourself how to write a query letter. This section will both tell you about the book, and what you should learn from the back cover blurb.

Most back cover blurbs and queries tell you just enough about the main characters to get you to connect with them right off the bat, and enough of the plot to get you imagining those characters in the conflict. While this blurb doesn't give you much of either of those, it really doesn't matter. Why? The hook, that's why. Now, I'm not a huge fan of "hook them right away" (don't put us to sleep either, just don't rely on the hook to carry you), but to me it's the whole blurb that should hook you, not just the first sentence. Here? I don't care about anything else. It's the hook. Actually, it's the first three words: "Bonnie and Clyde"
Bonnie and Clyde meets IF I STAY in this addictively heart-wrenching story of two desperate teenagers on the run from their pasts.

"They’re young. They’re in love. They’re on the run.

Zoe wants to save Will as much as Will wants to save Zoe. When Will turns eighteen, they decide to run away together. But they never expected their escape to be so fraught with danger....

When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can’t run fast enough."
Brownie Points: Gah! The end! It's so beautifully awesome! Okay, besides that (because obviously I'm not going to spoil it). The dual narrative was executed to perfection. There is no way you can possibly mix up Zoe and Will's POVs. They speak differently, they think differently, they act differently, they are, in every possible way, different from each other. And you never forget that either. Every decision they make, they are figuring each other out. It's far from a perfect relationship, which is what you love about them, because they try to work through everything.

Which leads me to Brownie Point Number Two. Their relationship. It isn't perfect. Hell, at the end, they know something is very fundamentally wrong. They aren't blind to their problems, they make many mistakes, and keep blundering through like the teenagers they are. Beautifully. Awesome.

Beefs: Once again, I can't think of any. I don't want to. I loved reading this book. It sucked me in and didn't let go until the last page. Then I flipped back twenty pages and re-read the ending. I am not a re-reader, but this is on my "to read again" list. That's successful story telling, no matter which way you look at it.

Who should read it: Anyone who loves a good YA, contemporary, thriller without the serial killers, dysfunctional relationships, etc, etc, etc. I always recommend unpublished writers read debut novels, and really concentrate on why the book, by an untried writer, was published by a big publisher. And the why of Kristin's? It's thrilling, it's real, and it's marketable. What do you mean "marketable"? Those three words again: "Bonnie and Clyde". I'm not saying go out and rewrite classic movies or books, I'm saying find something the market is missing, something only you can deliver.

And if you're in the Seattle area, Kristin's book launch is at the University Bookstore in Mill Creek this weekend (more on her blog).

Happy reading!


french sojourn said...

What a great review!

Not my book type, but will get it for my daughter based on your review. Glad I found your blog.

Unknown said...

I seriously enjoyed reading this review. I'll have to see if we can order a few copies for the bookstore.

And you're right about "Bonnie and Clyde"-- personally I would have told people to avoid blurbs like that one, but that one detail evoked enough feeling and imagery to make up for it.