Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – Adance Review

Nobody BIG

Book Jacket:

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 can really see them.

You can read an excerpt here.


Here’s the thing about this book – I did enjoy it, for its action and original take on the hidden-world-within-our-own paradigm (i.e. people with abilities hiding in plain sight), and I easily made it through to the end, but…this story just did not completely satisfy me. And by and large I think it’s because it never seemed to get beneath the surface.

For me, this book just felt, well, a bit too general. Like it was skimming instead of diving in. I did enjoy the outline of the world – the idea of Nobodies and Nulls, and how the super shady Corporation was pulling the strings (what can I say, I enjoy Evil Suits) – but honestly to me it all felt like a chalk outline instead of a fully fleshed body. Everything, from the world to the characters to the plot, stayed just a bit too broad, a bit too easy, a bit too generic, for me – which was all the more frustrating because I really liked the general shape of the thing. I loved how Barnes was riffing on something so wonderfully universal, the emotions of being ignored and overlooked, but all in all this story just didn’t develop on its ideas the way I wanted it to. So Claire’s nice and Nix is broken, but that’s pretty much all we get. The bad guys are Evil. Powers are abused. (You get my drift.) So while I liked the broad strokes of this book, very much so, what I really wanted was more detail, more shading, more complexity – and it just wasn’t there.

The romance is pretty much the ultimate case in point. Again, I really liked the overall idea – how Barnes played on the power of being noticed, of making that first emotional connection with someone who really sees you for who you are – and I totally bought how bowled over they both were at meeting each other, how it freaked them both out. But then, instead of exploring the many interesting facets of their predicament – I mean, you’re essentially alone in a room with someone and they’re literally your only romantic option, how could you not resent that on some level, having no choice in life? Not to mention, seeing as this is literally THE first relationship either of them has had in their entire lives, shouldn’t there be mistakes and growing pains and screw ups? What if there was something about each other they DIDN’T like? What then? – instead of all that juicy stuff, we get a bland, boilerplate case of insta-love, where they declare each other their One and Only in about five seconds flat. And all I could think was, how could you possibly know? S/he’s your first crush! All in all, it was just too overt, too generic, and too easy.

But even having said all off the above, let me say again – it’s not like I hated reading this book. It does have a genuinely fresh take on paranormal powers, something very hard to find these days, and the plot moves along nicely, finishing off with a big fun battle at the end. I just wish it had all been a bit more complex and a bit less caricature-y – frankly I just wanted it all to feel a bit more real.

Byrt Grade: B+

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Kirkus Reviews says:

…a pleasurable ride through chases, escapes, sinister memories and romantic tension. Gripping, with a dramatic climax and just enough room for a sequel.

Mystifying Paranormal Reviews says:

In the end, Nobody just didn’t float my boat until after Nix and Claire decided to unite and go after The Society.

Publishers Weekly says:

Barnes (Every Other Day) continues to establish herself as a strong voice in dark fantasy and science fiction…The ending is a bit rushed, with both a contrived concept and a late-debuting character driving a presumed sequel, but the world-building and the mix of dark genre elements (including some genuinely disturbing human actions) more than make up for any letdown.