Without Merit cover

Without Merit By Colleen Hoover-Family Drama Has Never Been More Bizzare!

“Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.”


Another trip down the Colleen Hoover rabbit hole with a book that happens to be the one with the most negative reviews on Goodreads. Published in October 2017, Without Merit is a story of self-acceptance, mental illness, and family dynamics.


Merit Voss might seem like a normal teenager from a normal household, but nothing about the Voss family is normal. Merit’s family lives in a former church that her dad bought out of spite, her sick mother lives in the basement, her father is married to her mum’s former nurse, her half-brother is not allowed to eat ‘unhealthy’ food, and her two other siblings are seemingly perfect, and Merit herself collects trophies she didn’t win. Also (get this), both her mother and her stepmother bear the same name-Victoria.

One word; Drama!

When she meets the handsome and somewhat mysterious Sagan, Merit is instantly drawn to him until she learns he is not available. This makes her even more withdrawn, determined to kill off whatever spark she feels for him. When she learns a secret that is too great, Merit makes a rash decision that might break her family entirely apart or serve as the foundation for their healing.


Plot and Theme

Without Merit is a contemporary romance novel in the young adult fiction category, centered around family drama, suicide, and mental illness. While so many in the world still believe that having a mental illness is a reason to be ashamed, the author clearly explains that it is nothing to be ashamed of.

There was a hint of romance here and there, but just like other CoHo books, it is not the kind you’re used to. It is also the kind of book where you might end up not liking any of the main characters (I know I didn’t like anyone except Moby).

At first, the plot seems a bit all over the place, but it all comes together eventually to make a not-so-terrible read.


As always, this is the most fun part but before I continue, I will like to state that I hated all the main characters except Moby. That little boy is a sweetheart and should be protected at all costs!

Merit Voss: The main character of the book, with serious self-acceptance issues. She’s also the type to jump to conclusions very easily and incessantly needs everything to be about her. She hates her family and would rather be anywhere else, but she does not realize that she’s mean to all of them. Everyone is going through something and everybody’s feelings are definitely valid, but there is no excuse for being such a shitty person. I don’t care what point you’re trying to make; you don’t use the B-word on your four-year-old younger brother who you claim to like.

I finally understood where she was coming from, but I still didn’t like her or her character.

Honor Voss: Merit’s identical twin sister who prefers to have sick boyfriends over healthy ones (I know you just gasped but you’ll find out the reason later!). She was annoying for the most part and I didn’t really care for her, but I loved her confidence.

Sagan: The hero and Merit’s love interest. The only thing I liked about our hero is the quote at the beginning of this book. I also tried to develop a fondness for him at least but I couldn’t. I appreciate creativity but I do not like when someone brings their morbidity around a kid. People should have boundaries! Also, I still don’t get his explanation for what happened at the beginning of the book (trying so hard not to give spoilers!). Even though I didn’t like his character overall, I did feel some sympathy for him when I read his backstory (that’s got to count for something right?).

Luck: Younger brother to Merit’s stepmother and the most peculiar character in the book. Luck is strange as they come, from his odd fashion choices to the way he holds a conversation. But, you can tell that he’s someone who possesses a lot of self-confidence and there’s also a lot to learn from him.

Utah Voss: Elder brother to Merit and Honor. Utah does not like spontaneity and calculates all his moves before he makes them. He harbors two secrets; one that has affected his relationship with Merit, and another that is hidden in plain sight.

Moby: Merit’s half-brother and the cutest four-year-old character ever. There really is something refreshing about seeing the world through a child’s eyes, even if it’s for a moment.

Barnaby Voss: Patriarch of the Voss family. If there’s one thing I learned from Barnaby, it’s that even parents do not have it all figured out. Loving your family and striving to make them happy does not mean you will not make mistakes, even the ones they’ll hate you for.


Without Merit is a CoHo book so of course, I’ll recommend it to people who want a good read and are interested in mental health awareness. Although this book did not give me all the feels I usually get from a CoHo book, it was still a good read.

Someone in the Goodreads reviews section once said that Colleen Hoover could publish her grocery list and they’ll buy it. I agree with that comment.

Star Rating:3/5 (My first Colleen Hoover book to get less than 5 stars and it kinda makes me sad but…it’s all good!)

If you’ve read it, please let me know what you think of it in the comment section!


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