Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover


4.14  ·  Rating details ·  8,487 Ratings  ·  1,733 Reviews
Without Merit by Colleen Hoover download or read it online for free
Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

“Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.” 

“Don’t make your presence known. Make your absence felt.”  

“Tuqburni is used to describe the all-encompassing feeling of not being able to live without someone. Which is why the literal translation is, ‘You bury me.”  

“It annoys me when people try to convince other people that their anger or stress isn’t warranted if someone else in the world is worse off than them. It’s bullshit. Your emotions and reactions are valid, Merit. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. You’re the only one who feels them.”

“We’re all a degree of fucked-up.” 



Reviews


Happy Pub Day Merit!
There is always a great deal of pressure when reviewing a highly anticipated novel before it’s release date. When this magical ARC was delivered to my doorstep and I read the press release, I knew this would be a really special read. I cleared my entire TBR schedule to be able to read this book immediately and I regret nothing. If you are the type who likes to go into a book fully blind, I’m going to stop right here and encourage that you to wait until you get your hands on Without Merit before reading any further, or reading any reviews for that matter. Do you see how short the blurb above is? It’s basically one line, and there’s good reason for that. I’m also going to discuss minor spoilers of It Ends with Us, as well as talk about some vague themes included in this current book, just as a fair warning.

Now that I’ve gone through the fine print, let’s start from the beginning. I’m hoping to refer more to my experience while reading this book and what I learned from it than the actual plot itself, as I feel this will better direct the right reader to this particular story. Anyone who devoured It Ends with Us last year knows that Hoover isn’t shy in dealing with tough subjects and trigger worthy issues (one of the many things I love about the woman), and I was blown away with the fictional tale shrouded in her personal family history to bring awareness to domestic violence and what can happen when the continuous cycle is broken. I’m not crying; YOU’RE crying! When everyone went bananas over that book last year, it made me pause and ponder if perhaps CoHo is moving her stories slowly in a different direction. Sure enough, I quickly discovered that Without Merit is unlike any book she’s written thus far; if I had to compare it to another book of hers I’d say it’s most like IEWU, except much less romantic. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that WM isn’t actually a romance. GASP! Does it contain romance in the novel? Sure, but it’s more of a side plot and it most definitely isn’t the focal point of the story. As you can guess, this was a risky move for the author in veering so far from her normal writing style, but I’m pleased to admit that it worked well, SO well. This new direction is something I feel will keep Hoover fresh, unique, and in demand for many years to come.

When I began reading, I noticed the differences almost immediately. I love how there are little twists and surprises in all of CoHo’s books, but the ones found in WM are far deeper and more complex than those tied to her more traditional romance style. The first 50 pages or so in the book is a major info dump; I was wondering where the author’s signature dry humor was and felt the build up of a more serious tone, which I think was necessary to prepare the reader for where she takes the rest of the story. Once I hit that mark, the story really took off and I read the remainder in a single sitting. I found I couldn’t tear myself away from the quirky, sad bunch of characters who managed to still make me feel hopeful that things would turn around for them. Hoover has brought together a cast that shows what it truly means to be human; the vulnerability of each and every one of us is felt through these realistic people and I think that is one of Colleen’s major talents which results in bringing repeat readers to her new books.

While Hoover chose to tackle domestic abuse and the horrific trauma involved surrounding the subject in her previous novel, here she has chosen to bring awareness to mental health, depression, and suicide among many other things. <— Trigger warnings clearly listed. While you may think this sounds like a dreary, heavy read, and you’d be partially correct, the author never allows the light of hope to dim. You may feel like this story seems crazy, wild, and unrealistic within the first 50% of reading it, but if you reach the ending you’ll see it all makes sense and portrays a very timely, important message. I truly felt this was CoHo’s most appropriate book for a younger audience, not only because the usual steamy, sexy romance is traded for a milder, coming of age and discovery, but because the message is just so dang important for our older teens and college aged students to hear. Cue the feels!

I know I’m rambling, and I’m truly sorry for that, but this is a ramble worthy book. I’ve already heard some people speculating that they are worried they’ll be disappointed in this dramatic change of style and genre for a beloved author; let me be the first to tell you, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. Holy guacamole, this book is amazing! I can’t remember a single book since IEWU that has caused me to take a step back and think about tough things for quite some time. I also think it’s truly appropriate that my 1,000th book logged as read on Goodreads was such an important one as this! Without Merit is a book that is worthy of your time and money; don’t sit in a queue of 200 people waiting for it to come in at the library. Buy it! Pre-order it! Add it to your TBR on Goodreads! Talk about it with your friends; I promise ladies and gentlemen, this one is worth the hype. As a mother of two young girls I took away so much from this book; it made me toss around scenarios and ideas of how I might react in a similar situation and what I need to do to be as involved, accepting, and loving toward my children as I can possibly be. Clasp your pearls to your chest and grab a hanky; this one is a tear jerker, but per classic Hoover, there is a ray of hope that turns into what a real happily ever after should look like. PS-that classic wit and humor does make many an appearance, I was just pulling your leg. 😉
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One thing I can say about Colleen Hoover is that she never writes the same book twice. I love that every time I pick up a book from her, it’s different than the last. She doesn’t have the same formula, but her writing is consistently strong and endearing. It’s refreshing! Without Merit is nothing like any of her other books. First of all, I wouldn’t classify this as a romance at all. It’s a book of self discovery and a coming of age tale.

Merit Voss comes from an interesting family. The Voss family is full of dysfunctional characters, and Merit is just as dysfunctional as the rest in a lot of ways. Merit is also the keeper of secrets in her family.

    No one would be able to determine from the outside of our house that our family of seven includes an atheist, a home wrecker, an ex-wife suffering from a severe case of agoraphobia, and a teenage girl whose weird obsession borders on necrophilia.
    No one would be able to determine any of that from inside our house, either.
“So many people dream of living in a house with a white picket fence. Little do they know, there’s no such thing as a perfect family, no matter how white the picket fence is.”


Merit is a unique character. I think she will be relatable to a lot of teenagers, and even adults. We all go through things. We all have familial relationships that aren’t 100% healthy, family members that are a tad bit crazy, and we all have hard times. I would like to say a lot about her story, but it would do a huge disservice to the reader. I loved that Colleen surprised me with this one. There were so many secrets and parts of the story I didn’t see coming, and that’s always a good feeling while reading.

There were characters I didn’t love at the beginning, but I did by the end. Everything is not how it seems when it comes to these characters and this family. People are redeemable. Forgiveness is key. There are so many important themes and great points made in this story. I’m excited for other friends to read it, because I can’t wait to discuss it more with others!

Without Merit is a book that hooked me from the first page. Merit’s story was original, powerful, and addicting. I loved the family drama, the surprises, and the topics that Hoover brought to light. Even though there wasn’t a ton of romance, I really did adore the love interest. There were so many fantastic characters in this book! If you’re looking for a book that will make you laugh, make you cry, make you feel, and one that’s heavy and light at the same time, and something that’s a little different, Without Merit is the book for you.

    “Don’t make your presence known. Make your absence felt.”
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Colleen Hoover is one of best authors I've ever read and her books are always sitting at the top of my recommendations lists for every kind of reader! Her books are absorbing, her characters are endearing, and each new story she writes is unique, relatable, and thought provoking. She has a very distinctive writing style that I absolutely love, I also respect and admire her as a person -- the charity she has started is incredible, and each time she announces a new book, I count down the days until I'm able to read it.

Without Merit is unlike anything she's written before. She returned to her YA roots with this one -- more in the vein of Slammed and Hopeless -- and yet this story is still very different even than those. It's a slow building, slow burning story that eventually takes you completely by surprise. The most important thing to keep in mind when reading this book is that perspective changes everything. The story doesn't tell, it shows you. It's real, raw, and painful. And yet also deeply heart-warming and healing. It conveys a powerful message that tackles tough subjects with grace. It's relevant and relatable. It's a book I'd want to give to every teen, but at the same time I believe everyone would enjoy it. The story takes you right into the dark, but also brings you back and leaves you smiling.

    “Not every mistake deserves a consequence.
    Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.”

    The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

    Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines, when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

    Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

    Poignant and powerful, Without Merit explores the layers of lies that tie a family together and the power of love and truth.



Other than the blurb, I don't really want to post too much about what the story is about. Colleen Hoover is one of the authors who has fully gained my trust over the years and for me just knowing that she wrote the book is enough to make me feel confident diving into the story blind. I would strongly encourage you to do the same.
Without Merit is a quietly powerful read. It's a slow build that didn't really keep my heart racing as I read, but I believe that was intentional. I don't think it was meant to be an angsty style of read. I think it was meant to be more of a fictionalized reflection of something closer to real life. Sometimes the things that influence a person's choices the most come quietly. This isn't the type of story where one huge, cataclysmic event changes everything. It's the opposite. It's a butterfly effect times ten. It's the result of many smaller events that all together build a storm.

    No one would be able to determine from the outside of our house that our family of seven includes an atheist, a home wrecker, an ex-wife suffering from a severe case of agoraphobia, and a teenage girl whose weird obsession borders on necrophilia.
    No one would be able to determine any of that from inside our house, either. We’re good at keeping secrets in this family.



The first chapter really sets the tone for the whole book. You're introduced to Merit's character -- her hopes and frustrations, and then there's this one moment where you suddenly realize that nothing is as it seems.

    “So many people dream of living in a house with a white picket fence. Little do they know, there’s no such thing as a perfect family, no matter how white the picket fence is.”



Everything about her life was unusual, odd, different than normal -- like the Adams family of small town America -- and as the story goes on you could really see how much she suffered from a loss of identity. When you think about 'child neglect', your mind often jumps to extreme - abusive - cases. But it can manifest in so many ways. Sometimes a simple lack of attention can be enough to make a child feel so invisible that they lose their sense of self-worth.
     I don’t matter here, either. If I dropped out of life, just like I dropped out of school, everyone’s lives would go on.
    With or without Merit.



This story has many layers to it and they build. Like I said, it's the butterfly effect many times over. The writing is brilliant. And it builds so quietly that you don't even notice that a storm is brewing until the moment where everything just explodes. Implodes. Everything is turned on its end and as the reader you're RIGHT THERE with it.

    I have Utah’s secret.
    I have my father’s secret.
    My mother’s secret.
    Honor’s secret.
    Luck’s secret.
    I don’t want any of them anymore!
    Maybe if I let all the secrets out, they wouldn’t make me feel like drowning anymore.



Perspective. You'll keep coming back to that theme throughout the book. And when you're finished it, you'll look back and just realize how much perspective matters. The Voss Family was brimming with secrets. But the thing with secrets is that they aren't always what they seem. Sometimes the villain isn't the bad guy. And as the quote at the top of the blurb says, “Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.”
Perspective changes everything.

The story shows you every detail. It doesn't tell you what to think. It makes you draw your own conclusions. Without meaning to, you can't even help but judge situations. But then it shows you this one missing piece that makes you realize how wrong you were. It's very cleverly written and eye opening.

    It’s incredible how much better a kiss can make you feel, right?”
    I nod. “So incredible.”
    His thumb brushes my cheek, then his satisfied grin falls into a pointed stare. “That’s exactly why I won’t do it again, Merit. You need to fall in love with yourself first.”



And OMG OMG OMG! There is a BRILLIANT bookstore scene!!!!!!!! I don't want to spoil anything but if you've been a longtime fan of this author and follow her, you'll get a serious kick out of that scene :D

As I said, this book is unlike anything else Colleen Hoover has written. It's a new direction for her and, like all her other books, it's a strong and stellar read I whole-heartedly recommend. If I had to describe it, I'd say it's very much like It Ends With Us in feeling, but instead this book is targeted at the teen age range rather than adult. But again, I do believe this is a book that everyone will enjoy! It's easily one of my favorite books of the year!
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Wow.

Just when I thought I was done with YA, I stumble upon CoHo’s book and she pulls me back in again.

Can she get any better? I doubt it.

So meaningful. So deep. So good.


QUICK REVIEW:

Enjoyment: 5/5
Writing style: 5/5
Storyline: 5/5
Hero: 4/5
Heroine: 5/5
Secondary characters: 5/5
Hotness/steam: 2/5
Romance: 3.5/5
Angst: 4/5
Darkness level: 2.5/5
Humor: 3/5
Depth of the book: 5/5
POV: heroine, 1st person

Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33280872-without-merit

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