Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: January 7th 2014 by HarperTeen
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.
I can completely understand the mixed reviews of this title. Here’s the thing, at least here’s how I can explain the reaction some people will have to the novel. Genre fiction is usually in an attempt to escape real life, problems and people. We expect a certain more glamour in our protagonists than apparent in people in real life – and this may be particularly true for the YA genre. We want protagonists we want to be friends with, we think (secretly or not) are cool. No One Else Can Have You, amongst other things, presents a protagonist who is a supremely uncool nerd. Not in a misunderstood way either. She is an unabashed nerd. And I’ll be honest, it took me a while to get used to her particular brand of nerdery.
Then there is the horrific nature of the murder. What was done to the friend was horrific and yet it was not treated with the gravitas it deserved. There is humour in the book and I think it may be misplaced at times because murder is not funny. Another thing people (and, okay, I did too) may not like is the imbecilic and juvenile manner in which the police sheriff and other people in authority handled the first murder and the one following it. We are all well versed in the way murder cases are handled due to the various crime shows on TV and for the Sheriff to behave in the manner he did asked for a larger suspension of disbelief than the readers are able to give at times.
And then there is the matter of Kippy’s father whom I actually cheered for at times. But his decision to concede to the Sheriff’s wishes is frankly puzzling and contradictory to the character he had previously been portrayed as.
Now that I have talked about some of the things that I may not have liked, what I did like was that the culprit was difficult to identify. The book isn’t predictable and Kippy, for all her nerdery, is easy to get behind and cheer for. I like the romance too. It’s different and interesting and remains a secondary plot point. I recommend this but perhaps it’s better borrowed than bought.