Nowhere Else But Here by Rachel Cotton is one of those books that I’d imagine, whilst not my usual auto-buy genre, is a go-to for a palette cleanser or lighter book if I’ve read something particularly heavy or dark. So I knew going into this that I likely wouldn’t be discussing the intellectual credentials, theme and moral compass of the narrative, characters and plot with my fellow readers. But I didn’t expect to be left feeling so…disappointed.
Now I feel like I have to say something before I really get into the meat of my review. Rachel Cotton, the author, is only 17 years old. Now don’t get me wrong; she should be extremely happy that she is a published author at such a young age. But her age is not going to be a factor for me in this review. If I like, or dislike, something it won’t be good or bad ‘for the author’s age’ – it’ll just be good or bad. What can I say? I’m an equal opportunities reviewer. If you put a book in front of me I will review it honestly regardless of age, sex, race, religion etc.So let’s begin at the beginning. Well, the beginning was incredibly abrupt. Think Sonic-the-Hedgehog-hitting-a-brick-wall-at-full-speed kind of abrupt. There was no build up or exploration of the two main characters. We get to briefly glimpse at Rose and we only know about Theo based off of Rose’s opinions of him (which isn’t much because Rose doesn’t talk to Theo much in school). Which is why I genuinely can’t be;I’ve Rose’s motivations for helping Theo. She doesn’t know anything about him or his personality. All that she knows is that he’s cute.
Theo also showed up far too soon. I swear we’d only just been told he was missing and all of a sudden he was there. It was quite off-putting and I genuinley looked at the page count I had left and questioned what on earth could be filling the pages.
” ‘Rose Valentine,’ said Theo Lockhart in a whisper, his eyes filled with an intense desperate panic. ‘I need your help.’ “
As a side note, I had a bit of a problem with the names of these characters: Theo Lockhart sounds like it came out of a teenage-vampire fan-fiction name generator and then there’s Rose. Rose…Valentine. Well a name like that, to me, sounds like what a teenager might think is a romantic name, but it actually sounds like a porn star. Perhaps I’m the only person who thought this, but it is what it is.
I actually found Rose to be quite irritating – in fact I don’t think I’ve ever put so many tabs in a book for aspects of a character I didn’t like (wait, I’m lying – Rose is no where near as bad as Mare Barrow!). Here’s a quick example of the kinds of notes I left in my tabs (I’m a passionate person, for better and worse – so when I’m annoyed I’m really annoyed, so bad language inbound!): “Oh you weak motherfucker! Get a grip!”, “*eyeroll*”, “WTF?!”, “For fuck sake”, “Of course. *eyeroll*” and there were a couple of instances that Rose reminded me a little bit of Kathy Bates’s character in Misery.
“Our lives sometimes feel too intricate to have happened by chance; they’re too complex to be a single string of random events, and yet it doesn’t feel as though we have any control over them ourselves.”
I think the reason behind a lot of this is that I didn’t feel like Rose was acting, and didn’t show the emotional intelligence, of someone who’s as supposed to be the age she was. I don’t remember her age ever being expressly stated, but she is still in school and old enough to drive in the UK so she has to be a minimum of 17. No 17 year old I have ever known behaves in the way that Rose does. She acts and thinks like a young teenager -perhaps 13 or 14 – instead of someone who is about to become an adult.
I also found that for a a book that had very little plot, there was also very little focus. There was also a lot of telling and not showing present here – and long-term fans of my reviews will know I’m not a fan of books like that.
The best word to describe this book is fluff – which (if you remember in my intro) I was actually kind of looking for. But not all fluff is created equal. This is the type of fluff that is far too simple for me. But therein lies the key phrase: for me. I’m sure that for younger readers this would be a cute, enjoyable, semi-romantic novel for them to quickly read, as long as they are emotionally mature enough to understand that this is a fantasy – not a guide to what a realistic relationship is especially for those of school age.
“Theo and I were like two ships that were used to passing each other without any interaction, but now we had crashed into one another and were trying desperately not to sink.”
Was this novel cliched all the way through? Absolutely. But for some people that is exactly what they want. It’s just not for me. An entire novel about a girl foolishly acting on a baseless crush she has on a boy she sits near in class is not my idea of a good time. But I think young teenagers would like it. I’d probably buy it for someone that age.
The novel touches on some serious subject matter, such as absent parents, abusive parents and (to some very minor extent) mental illness. But because this is fluff it’s only touched on in the lightest of ways.
I think what was most disappointing about this novel is that I felt quite mislead by the blurb. It just didn’t quite match up to the contents of the covers. You know when you see a really good trailer for what ends up to be a fairly average film? Yeah…that.
But I will say that the novel has a stronger second half and the cover is very pretty.
All in all, this was not a book for me but I can image that younger readers will enjoy it.
“We sat near one another in class, and had a love-hate relationship – he used to drive me insane with his incessant teasing and joking. He found me amusing, and I thought that was the only reason he ever spoke to me.”
But does Nowhere Else But Here sound like your kind of book? You can get your own copy here!
PLEASE NOTE: I was given a copy of this book for an honest review – all the opinions are honest and my own.