Thursday, January 16, 2014

Review: No One Else Can Have You


No One Else Can Have YouAuthor: Kathleen Hale
Published: January 7th 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 688) is no different. Around here, everyone wears a smile. And no one ever locks their doors. Until, that is, high school sweetheart Ruth Fried is found murdered. Strung up like a scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield.
Unfortunately, Friendship’s police are more adept at looking for lost pets than catching killers. So Ruth’s best friend, Kippy Bushman, armed with only her tenacious Midwestern spirit and Ruth’s secret diary (which Ruth’s mother had asked her to read in order to redact any, you know, sex parts), sets out to find the murderer. But in a quiet town like Friendship—where no one is a suspect—anyone could be the killer.
Like every satire ever written, No One Else Can Have You is destined to polarize readers. I doubt there will be people with lukewarm feelings for this book. Either this type of dark humor is something you enjoy or not, but it should be pretty clear after only a couple of pages.

Through Friendship, Wisconsin and its colorful inhabitants, Hale cleverly points out all the shortcomings of a small community. Her criticism is as sharp as it is funny, and she spares no one in the process: not the protagonist, not the grieving parents, not the war hero, and certainly not the victim herself. To Hale, everything is fair game, and that’s precisely what makes her prose acceptable and entertaining. Had she been picky with her disparagement, the value would have been lost, but her tone remains unchanged whichever way you look.

Like everything else, the murder mystery is designed to both entertain and ridicule the small town mentality. Everyone involved in the investigation is basically a blithering idiot and the only two people with a modicum of sense are Kippy and Davey, Ruth’s older brother, just returned from a tour in Afghanistan. Davey has secrets he’s doing his best to hide and the entire town believes that he suffers from PTSD, so the fact that he’s the sanest one around is plenty ridiculous all on its own.

Despite the quirkiness that is, on occasion, exaggerated and annoying, Hale strikes just the right note with her secondary characters. The people of Friendship, few exceptions aside, are funny and instantly lovable, in that entirely unrealistic, unbelievable way. Kippy’s dad in particular has no trouble finding his way into the readers’ hearts, with his silly nicknames and his unrelenting support.

While I strongly recommend reading a sample first, just to see if this is something you might enjoy, I think everyone should at least give this one a chance. It’s a novelty, a breath of fresh air in an overly saturated market, and as such, it’s worthy of attention.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.

22 comments:

  1. I love this last paragraph Maja "While I strongly recommend reading a sample first, just to see if this is something you might enjoy, I think everyone should at least give this one a chance. It’s a novelty, a breath of fresh air in an overly saturated market, and as such, it’s worthy of attention."

    Even despite all the mixed reviews I have read, I do plan on trying this one, even if it is only a sample.

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  2. Huh, you've made me reconsider this one. I wasn't interested in it even before early reviews and quite a few that I've seen haven't enjoyed this, but then again, none of them mentioned the satire in the novel either. I'll definitely check out a sample of this as it seems like one I could - potentially - enjoy. Fabulous review, Maja - you always do such an amazing job of completely changing my perspective. :)

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  3. I still haven't got around to read it, but after your review I'm even more determined to do so. It might or might not be my thing, but it sounds different and unique enough to deserve a read!

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  4. Mmmm.. not sure if this would be right for me or not. I live in a tiny town and might get offended by the offbeat sense of humor. :)

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  5. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE I'm glad that you enjoyed this one! Yeah, definitely a book people are hating and loving but Kippy is amazeballs, she's so weird and fun to read about.

    Love the review! <33

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  6. I started this, didn't love it and put it aside. And then I I remembered it was a satire. I actually have to mentally prepare myself for satires -- is that strange? Probably. But that's okay. I haven't picked it back up yet but, when I do, I'll go in with the right mindset and, hopefully, enjoy it.

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  7. I'm so curious about this one Maja! You're so right that it's definitely a love it or hate it book (based on the reviews I've read) and books like that always make me want to pick them up just to see what I'll think. Reading a sample is a good idea, I don't know why I don't do that often. Fail. Lovely review my friend!

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  8. I love that you mention how Hale spares absolutely no one in this book, I totally agree with you there! If she only picked on certain people I think I would have found the book offensive but for what it was it was so perfect. I am happy to see that you enjoyed this one more than you disliked it, Maja!

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  9. It's amazing how polarizing this book has been! So many of the negative reviewers seem to take the book quite seriously and I am shocked that people took offense at particular moments or lines when it was so obviously a satire/black comedy. I absolutely adore this -->> "To Hale, everything is fair game, and that’s precisely what makes her prose acceptable and entertaining. Had she been picky with her disparagement, the value would have been lost, but her tone remains unchanged whichever way you look." Couldn't agree more with your review. I also found this book such a breath of fresh air. Lovely review! :-)

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  10. I think I'd really like this! I don't mind satire and dark humor. That's great you found this one a breath of fresh air. I love how unique the premise is and that the author really "goes there" with her premise, etc.

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  11. I actually keep seeing positive reviews for this one. Your review goes a bit deeper than the others and it really makes me curious. I like something different and this sounds like it. I just didn't care for the cover. It didn't draw me in. :)

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  12. I don't know what to think of this book. Like you said - I'm reading love or hate reviews.

    I'm not a fan of small town stories but if it's satire...well then maybe. I don't know! lol

    If the book finds it's way to me, I'll read it but I probably won't' go out of my way to get it.

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  13. You actually finished this! I wanted so much to love this book, and in the end I couldn't I keep wanting it to be like Fargo, but it just got too ridiculous for me. I did like the characters, the setting and the satire but I faltered with the unrealistic aspects of it. If I had paid for it, I would be sorely disappointed.

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  14. I do like dark humor, but haven't been attracted to this one for whatever reason

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  15. Wonderful review and from the reviews I have read this is all over the place. I think a lot of folks don't realize it is a parody.

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    1. I agree and it makes me kind of sad. The only thing more obvious would be a neon sign saying PARODY. Ridiculous.

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  16. I know my sister totally hated this book, and thought it was just childish. I'm not too sure what dark humor is, but I don't think this book would be for me. Great review, though!
    - Farah

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  17. Huh, I actually haven't read any reviews for this one but assumed it was a mystery rather than a satire. Thanks for the heads up, Maja.

    I've got this one on my wishlist and it sounds pretty humourous.

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  18. I'm glad that despite some little things you liked it, you know I just love the idea of the cover, it's fun. I'm curious about the people in the town now!

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  19. It's a real shame about this book really. But I see the points you made and I'd be very annoyed as well. I don't understand why everyone in childrens books in small town investigations is suddenly incompetent but the teenagers who have no formal training

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  20. I've been eager for your review! I'm glad you did enjoy it. It's definitely not for everyone, but I really enjoyed it!

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