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Book Review - NOBODY by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Updated on April 5, 2013
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Nine letters. Two words. He refused to think of them as a name.

Nix was born and raised to do one thing: kill, or more accurately, assassinate anyone The Institute tells him is a threat and must be removed. He carries out his orders without question because, being a Nobody, this is what he’s good at. Never noticed by people, Nix easily flies under the radar, allowing him to go almost anywhere without detection. The Institute gave him at least something to do in his meaningless life. But when his next target is sixteen-year-old Claire, a girl who’s been as invisible in her life as Nix has been in his, he can’t pull the trigger. Partly because he doesn’t understand why she’d be a threat, but mostly because she sees him; actually stares at him and not through him.

Instead of killing her, Nix takes Claire to a safe house in the woods. He knows she needs to die, that if The Institute says she is who they say, she’ll grow up to be a monster; a killer with no emotion. Why then does Nix not see danger in her eyes? Together, the two form a kinship, one neither has ever felt before as they’ve always been ignored or just not acknowledged. Even Claire’s parents don’t realize she’s missing. After Nix finally decides he won’t kill Claire, he vows to protect her, aware The Institute will send more people to take her out. Soon, Nix and Claire begin to unravel the threads that have held The Institute’s secrets. A larger plan has been their ultimate goal all along and Nix is just one pawn in their chess game. With the truth at their disposal, Nix and Claire plot to bring down the company, but it won’t be easy. As the place that trained Nix, they know exactly what to look for.

NOBODY is an interesting book. It’s the best word I could use to describe it. Jennifer Lynn Barnes (RAISED BY WOLVES) puts a new twist on invisibility. Nix is not just metaphorically invisible. As a Nobody he has the ability to actually become invisible. The reason for the term “interesting” is that while the plot was intriguing, it’s executed in a way this reviewer didn’t expect. Some readers may find themselves thrown off at times. Barnes has a style that makes it easy to follow, though you may not be sure if you are following it correctly. Does that even make sense? Told from both Nix and Claire’s points of view, it often jumps to one or another with your only warning being a double space. A fan of multiple POV (if done correctly), I would have preferred them to be separated into chapters, but that's just me. Nix clearly has the stronger voice since it’s more complex and different. Claire’s isn’t bad; it’s just a voice we’ve heard before.

The relationship between Nix and Claire is the story’s strength and weakness. A slight case of insta-love, you could argue that it works to Barnes advantage because as two people never before noticed by others it would be natural for them to fall in love. Still, the immediate attachment they feel often leads to a few eye-rolling proclamations of passion from both characters. Fans of Barnes’ previous work should no doubt enjoy this adventurous standalone. Those not familiar with her style may find the plot a little confusing. I never before read a book by Barnes, yet once I got the hang of it, the story moved quicker. Nix’s character alone is worth checking out the book for. His perspective on the world he doesn’t truly know is what gives NOBODY its interesting edge.

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