Just when I was worried that Hoover was getting too used to her usual formula, she completely throws it out the window.

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is Without Merit by Colleen Hoover. Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.

The story follows the perspective of seventeen-year-old Merit and her family. Her mother has agoraphobia and doesn't leave the basement of their church-turned-house, even after the divorce. Her father is seemingly oblivious to the problems around his house. Merit's twin sister, Honor, has decided after the death of her first love to only be with guys who are dying. Their older brother, Utah, did something he should never have when they were younger and Merit cannot forgive him. Her sister's boyfriend, Sagan, kissed her accidentally and has now all but moved into the house. Life's not going great for Merit. But perhaps she's seeing things from a glass half empty perspective. Maybe it's the perspective and assumptions that make all the difference.

Without spoiling too much, I just want to say that there are trigger warnings for attempted suicide and depression.

This was unlike any other Hoover book I've read. First and foremost, I am hesitantly shelving this one as a YA instead of NA. The main character is still in high school and things don't really make it much further than kissing, so I think I'd say this one is older YA. I wasn't expecting that from Hoover. Usually, she writes NA novels that are much less about life and much more about romance. But I found that even the romance seemed to take a (necessary) backseat to the other issues in Merit's life.

Family was really the main focus of this book, specifically how messed up life can get. Merit's family definitely has some issues but I wouldn't say that it is one that is any more dysfunctional than others. One of the main messages was that everything looks different, depending on your perspective. You can see something that isn't there just because you are looking for it. That goes hand-in-hand with Merit and her feelings of depression. Some days are better than others but she sees things from her perspective that other people don't. I thought this was a really interesting take and a unique way of writing the novel.

I really feel like Hoover has stepped up her game with this one. If you've read others and weren't a fan for whatever reason, I strongly suggest that give this one a go because it is so different from her other books. The romance, something that is usually at the forefront of Hoover's novels, takes a backseat to the main storyline. It was still there, and we saw some adorable moments, but most of this book was about understanding and changing Merit's family's dynamic. Secrets that were kept to try and keep the peace come tumbling out, past mistakes aired in the open. There wasn't a lot of room for romance in this novel, and Hoover definitely recognized that.

I also loved the Bookworm Box store Easter egg in the story! I thought that was super hilarious and clever of Hoover to sneak it in there, especially since this book is set around where she lives and has the store.

I read this book in about 3 hours, one sitting. It's really the only way to read a CoHo novel because once you start, you can't put it down. There wasn't so much suspense as there was a genuine interest in the family and the characters. I don't stay up past my bedtime reading all the books, just a select few that make me want to never stop. And, unsurprisingly, this book did that.

Overall, a really unique story from Hoover that you don't want to miss!