Review: Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook


Book Title/Author: Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook
: HarperTeen January 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: Nope!
Other Books From Author: None — debut!

Amazon| Goodreads | @kristinhalbrook |

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 Zoe and Will have seen their fair share of hard knocks — more than the average teenager. Zoe’s mom passed away and she lives with her alcoholic father who  hits her. Will has been bounced around  from foster home to foster home and is constantly in trouble. Will convinces Zoe to run off with them  so they can get away from their lives and start a new future together. The two head out of town, high on their love for one  another, and find themselves not prepared for what lies ahead when they are on the run from the police & their past. 

UGH I am sad times infinity that I have to write this review. This was one of my most anticipated books of 2013 (a Bonnie & Clyde story — heck yes!) and I was so happy when it showed up in my mailbox but, unfortunately, this book just didn’t do much for me personally.

The good?  I welcomed a book about different characters — no girl next doors, popular cheerleaders, shy and gorgeous girls who don’t know  how amazing they are or bad boys who really aren’t that bad, the popular stud,  etc. etc.  The characters of Nobody But Us are two teens who have seen their share of hard times and their relationship seems to be, to them, that one bright spot at the moment. Zoe lived with her alcoholic father who has abused her and Will has jumped around in foster care — they are both genuinely broken, a bit damaged and so very vulnerable. Will wants to save Zoe and take her out of this situation but his tendency to explode and use violence against others in the story makes Zoe a little bit fearful of him sometimes.  These weren’t cookie cutter characters by any means. I really rather liked Zoe — her POV was my favorite because some of the things she thought were really so wise & beautiful but I struggled with why she made such dumb decisions when it came to Will. I wanted for her to speak up more and to see how unhealthy their relationship was.

I was also kind of skeptical of the whole “Bonnie  & Clyde” reference because I thought maybe the storyline would wimp out a little bit but OH NO they become outlaws very literally. They get into some crazy situations complete with high speed chases & stolen money. There was a lot of action for sure in this book that made it pretty quickly to read. So I was at least happy that it wasn’t watered down on the “on the run” storyline. It was drama central in this book — bad decision after bad decision tumbling into one another until the very dramatic conclusion that I didn’t expect at all but I think  I was ok with.

However, I expected something incredibly heartwrenching & would require a bucket for my tears (I mean, they compared it to If I Stay and, well, Kleenex stayed in business because I read and loved that book) but I just cared too little and when I did start to care a little bit about them as individuals it was too late — and for the romance — never hit a point where I cared.  I felt like the whole time I KNEW the reaction I was supposed to be having to this “tragic romance” and story but I never really found myself feeling it in a REAL, in-the-depths-of -my-soul kind of way. It was like the time I dated this boy I should have been excited about dating because I crushed on him forever but when I dated him I just felt like I was going through the motions and pretending I felt things that I knew I should have felt; that I knew he felt. That’s how I felt about this book. I KNEW the characters and their story should have pulled at my heart and I should have felt indescribable pain to my heart during parts of this story but I only felt little pricks of sadness and tragedy — mostly at the ending. Also, like my issues with Pushing The Limits, I found their love very eyerolly to me and, in this case, very unhealthy.

I think I was supposed to be rooting for the romance? (I wasn’t)  I don’t know? As the reader, we see this is a really dumb series of bad decisions that they are making. WE know that. We know that this is all very risky and that their relationship is unhealthy and that it’s not going to end well. I even felt like Zoe did know what they were doing was dumb, because she really was so smart, but I don’t know why she just went along with it — I guess because she loved him that much?. A lot of what they did was irrational and stupid but was I supposed to be gentle with my judgement in that because we all know that as teenagers we make crazy, rash decisions that are very emotional based? I mean,  I think a lot of their actions and their crazy, exacerbated feelings for one another were part of being so young and in love but I just felt so confused if I was supposed to identify with it or feel sad because of how tragic it all was, etc. I just think my heart was supposed to be somewhere it wasn’t in this novel.

I think a lot of people will enjoy this novel, I do, but I just wasn’t one of them. I welcomed different characters who truly had seen the  hard knocks in life, I enjoyed the dramatic, wild ride that we were taken on but, in a novel where it seemed so integral to connect with the characters and FEEL something about their tragic love, I just wasn’t there. I mean, I had high expectations considering it was compared to If I Stay by Gayle Forman but I just never found my heart in this novel — just little pricks of sadness and tragedy; mostly at the end. I didn’t ever feel anything for the romance  nor root for them (though I’m still unsure if we were meant to or if we were just supposed to feel a sense of tragic  love destined to fail but still root for a happy outcome anyways).

For Fans Of: Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry (which I loved the story for WAY more despite not LOVING this book like others did), Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, books with bad boys, complicated romances, books with troubled  characters



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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Jamie, I am right there with you on this, and I’m sort of glad that you had a similar reaction to my own, because I was afraid I might be a little too…I don’t know feminist-smashy or something. But, then again, I do think my criticisms are valid. It was just weird because I was the first negative review for this book on GR, and that made me wonder.

    Yes to having characters from a different background than usual and them not being magically perfect. Also huge yes to Zoe being bright, supposedly, except for anything to do with Will, which was hugely frustrating. I mean, sure, Will might not be bright enough to think about some of the considerations of running off and how easy it would be to get caught, but she ought to have a better idea. Plus, she would be in the car and thinking about how her mom married the first guy to pay attention to her despite warning signs and how that turned out and how Will is the first guy to pay attention to her, but she never makes the connection with his terrifying behavior, and I just AGHHHH.

    Oh man, I also expected it to be this heart-wrenching, intense read, but it was just way too much lifetime movie. I mean, it was just so depressing it was funny, especially the ending, am I right? Like the only happy scene was when they were bouncing on the bed in a scuzzy hotel, and I was like lol whut about the whole thing.

    My biggest issues were definitely how incredibly stupid the two were, especially when Zoe’s supposed to be bright, and the romance. Like, I know they’re teens and might not think of things like needing records to go to school, but I would think Will might realize he might need a new ID too, and the whole stealing tampons thing was just above and beyond. And Will so obviously is the worst guy for her to be with. She’s constantly telling him how much his violence terrifies her, and he’s like “I’d never hit you baby, I’ll stop fighting.” and then punches more people five pages later. He also accuses her of flirting with those assholes in the gas station, and he’s so obviously abusive already and going to advance in time. Halbrook just never really came down on a side to actually show that she felt the relationship was unhealthy, and I can’t support it with Zoe still ‘loving’ him at the end.

    Definitely not If I Stay. I also made the Beautiful Disaster Comparison.

    • YES. I saw so many five star reviews and I felt like I missed something.

      And yeah, like I thought that most people I knew at that age would have been smarter than that. YEAH, they could be reckless, not think things through and completely rash but some of the things I was just like you REALLY didn’t even think about this. It wasn’t like it was a situation where they decided in that moment — like let’s say he got into an altercation with the dad on a random night, hurt him bad and they panicked all OMG WE HAVE TO GO. He had been plotting it out but some of those things would even cross the densest of boy brains. lol

      YEAH that ending. WOW. Not at ALLL what I expected. But I actually didn’t know WHAT to expect because you knew after all of the things that went on that things couldn’t just have ended up all sunshine and cupcakes. I actually think I liked the end to be honest. I don’t mind a story without a happy ending or that is quite depressing sometimes (not all the time lol)

      YES and that was my biggest thing with their relationship that I KNOW should have made me feel so sad — that she felt scared of him but still stayed. Which I know happens a lot. But I agree with you, it’s evident to US as adult women that this was obviously unhealthy but I worry about a younger reader and how they will perceive the romance. I’m interested to actually see some teen reviews of this book.

      • I definitely see the value of having teen characters do stupid, unthought out things, because, you know, that happens. I just felt like she took it WAY too far. They were trying to think things out, and they came up with the worst plans in the entire world. Anyone who’s watched an episode of any crime drama knows more about how the world works than those kids do. This book would have been much stronger if they’d ever made a single, non-idiotic decision, especially given how clever we’re to believe Zoe is.

        Oh, I liked the ending better than the rest of it, mostly just because I found it satisfying (and hilarious). However, I hated how Zoe walks off to the sunset thinking about how inspiring he is.

        Precisely. Their relationship may be 100 percent realistic, but fiction does need to differ a little bit, because it can program people, especially young ones. I think she could have changed just a few things and had their relationship dynamics remain the same, but the whole impact be quite different than it is.

  2. Aw, so sad you didn’t like this one as much. I totally get what you’re saying how you’re kinda just feeling what you’re “supposed” to feel, but nothing deep. It’s hard to compare to the awesomeness of If I Stay! LOL. I’m supposed to read this for a tour soon so I hope I like it. Love your review babe!

    Confessions of a Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island

    • I hope you enjoy it! I think it’s going to be an either you feel the sense of tragedy in it all and your heart hurts or you don’t. I knew what I was SUPPOSED to be feeling but just didn’t. Only on a very surface level in a few parts.

  3. I feel like this is the response I’m seeing from most poeple! Let’s face it – Comparing it to If I Stay is a pretty dangerous comparison. There are few books I feel I can feel as strongly about as I do with Gayle Forman’s books – so I can see where that might not be a fair comparision. I’ll still give it a try and hopefully I’ll pull some good things out of it 🙂

    • It really is so hard to compare it to that. I just didn’t find it to be the same sort of heartbreaking and emotional journey at all. Nor was the romance as amazing or sweet.

      Maybe going into it without that expectation will be better for you? I really do hope you enjoy it! It’s a really well written book and is definitely a different kind of story than you normally see. AND so fast paced!

  4. I think for one you and I are in entire agreement about this book. I had a hard time buying into the premise, but I admit that once the bad decisions in the first half of the book were made, it was easier to understand the second half of the book.

  5. I just read this too and I felt a lot of the same way. I was stepping out of my usual fantasy, dystopian zone into contemporary and I reeeeeally wanted to like this and I did initially but then it just fell flat. I wasn’t rooting for the characters like I know I should have been and I felt the ending was so thrown together and went from 0 to 60 and then ended just as abruptly. I was really looking forward to liking this and I just didn’t. Glad I wasn’t the only one 🙂

    • I’ll recommend you some contemporary to read! 🙂

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who didn’t quite find that connection. Like my thing with this book is that I am not even sure we are SUPPOSED to be rooting for them. I thought that maybe we were supposed to be wanting them to have a happy ending and turn things around but I’m not convinced if we were supposed to root for their actual romance or not. I mean, WE see that it is unhealthy but is that because we are old ladies? I don’t know! I felt like I knew what I was supposed to be feeling and that, to some degree, I was supposed to be hoping for the best for them to somehow get themselves out of this mess and have a happy life after they’ve both just seen so much bad…but I just really didn’t care about what happened to them.

      AND THAT ENDING. HOLY EFF. I was reading so fast. I did feel a prick of sadness in my heart in that scene like WOW this is intense but idk…just fell flat altogether for me.

  6. Sad to hear you didn’t connect with the romance too much, it’s on my most anticipated 2013 reads list too so im like counting down the days for this one. I thought it would be a tear jerker for sure since it was compared to If I Stay by Gayle Forman and that book makes me ball every time but now I’m not so sure. Oh well I still will be reading it! Great Review 🙂

    • I really hope you enjoy it, Lily! Lots of people really have! I guess it just wasn’t for me. I think it’s supposed to be a different kind of tearjerker perhaps? It just didn’t have the same feel to me and definitely was NOT the same in the romance department. But I’ll be curious to know what you think!

  7. Yeah… after seeing Christina’s review and now yours, I’m pretty sure this one won’t be for me. Characters making stupid decisions, knowing they are stupid decisions, would really irk me. It’s a shame because it does sound like a cool story. Sorry it didn’t work out for you. Hopefully, your next read will be better!

  8. Great review. I’ve seen a lot of hype for this book and was wondering if it lived up.

  9. Oh, that’s too bad. I wanted this to be all heart-stirring like If I Stay. But I didn’t like Just One Day as much either. It is difficult to inspire as many tears as If I Stay caused, even if you’re Gayle Forman. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  10. I agree with your review 100%. I literally just finished reading this book a few hours ago! I wonder if maybe I was too old for this book LOL. I mean, I’m not that old, but I’m not a teenager anymore. I think maybe 15 year olds who might be in that “blinded by first love” stage of life might get more out of this story.

    But I was the same as you.. I could identify all the parts that should have made me tear up and start grabbing tissues, but I wasn’t really sad at all.


  11. Thanks for your honesty. I have this from Edelweiss and now I’m curious to see what I think.
    Sometimes I just don’t connect with a book either. (In fact, I’m having that problem with the book I’m reading right now.)
    Hope your next read is a great one!

  12. Oh no! I was really looking forward to this one too, but as I read your review, it reminded me SO MUCH of Pushing the Limits. I might still read it, but at least I’m going into forewarned now.


  1. […] I don’t hate nor did I connect with Zoe but she was so frustrating. I wanted to like her but I just couldn’t She was supposed to be so smart but she made REALLY dumb decisions that I just shook my head all too often in that book. I had complicated feelings and you can read about them further in my review of Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook. […]