Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
There was an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer back in season one called “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” that dealt with the idea of people disappearing if no one one ever noticed them. A girl that was totally ignored became invisible and ended up carted away by a mysterious government agency. Fast forward to 2013 and Jennifer Lynn Barnes has taken the idea of invisible teens and a shady institute and spun it into her book NOBODY.
Like the Buffy episode which explored the idea of neglect and the physical manifestation of indifference, NOBODY takes it a step further by imagining a metaphysical explanation for these forgotten individuals, which are called Nobodies, and imagines their counterparts, which are called Nulls, as individuals so charismatic and magnetic that people will do anything for them. As a Nobody, Claire has grown up neglected and forgotten by everyone including her parents who have to leave notes for themselves to remember she even exists. It’s a very tragic idea and one that is communicated well throughout the book.
Told from the perspective of both Claire, a Nobody who doesn’t know what she is, and Nix, a Nobody who has been raised by the Institute to be an assassin. The beginning starts out a little slow with Claire mostly feeling sorry for herself and frustration over everyone constantly ignoring her. Nix’s chapters were significantly more interesting since his thoughts were so shaped by his training that reinforced his ‘nothingness’.
The idea behind NOBODY is a good one, but the writing was just average and the pacing was off. The slower beginning doesn’t do enough to develop the characters, and the romance, while starting off in a bittersweet yet inevitable way, fails to take advantage of what it means to meet the first person who ever truly notices them. The third act is much stronger and more exciting as Claire and Nix infiltrate the institute which led to a very cool ending. I’m not sure if a sequel is planned, but the momentum and storyline would certainly lend itself to one.