No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale Review: Quirky, dark small town comedy

January 13, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 5 stars, Books, Reviews

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale Review: Quirky, dark small town comedyNo One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
Published by HarperCollins Australia on January 7, 2014
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult
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Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 689 688) 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.

The cover and blurb clearly show it, but No One Else Can Have You is definitely weird and quirky, and that was the best part about it. It features a dark and gory murder mystery, but it’s told in a satirical, comedic and entertaining way – not for everyone – but I totally loved it.

Our protagonist is Kippy Bushman, an awkward, odd girl who one day finds herself alone without a best friend who she’s relied on throughout her teenage years. She often resorts to obsession as a coping mechanism for loss, and this time she’s obsessed with Dianne Sawyer, a talkshow host who she’s mirroring as she investigates Ruth’s murder. There’s something incredibly intimate about Kippy’s perspective as she tells us everything – weird things and all with no bars. With her refreshing, intelligent and unusual voice, and her personality quirks, Kippy couldn’t be more of a briilliant narrator, as she takes us through the small town of Friendship and the quirky, strange characters who reside  there.

I guess it comes from being the clumsy, food-on-the-face sidekick of the most beautiful girl in school. Or from having a dad who’s got aprons more feminine looking than anything in my own closet. 

With her ‘psychologist’ huggable dad, the blonde bimbo Libby, to the psycho charming boyfriend Colt, the characters are vibrant and quirky, each with their unique personality traits that are anything but cookie cutter. Being a small town, Kippy knows these people intimately and provides entertaining observations about them. After picking up her best friend’s journal, Ruth was definitely a surprising, off-kilter character who kept secrets from Kippy, such as her affair with an older man and her darker thoughts. She’s promiscuous, outrageous and fabulous, and you can see how she balances the quiet and brilliant Kippy out.

Uggggh, Ruth here. Sometimes I get up and it’s, like, sad or something, how beautiful I am…Based on how much more attention I get, I’m pretty sure Kippy’s jealous (who isn’t?)…She’s basically the ying to my yang. Like she’s totally flat chested and superpale, but the real reason no one’s ever asked her to a dance is because she wears those turtlenecks and screen-printed sweatshirts with stuff like ducks or elk on them. 

The heart of the book is the murder mystery, which is fascinating and done extremely well, with resident Kippy as a suitable Harriet the Spy. With her keen observation skills, hardy resolve and quirky personality, she does a much better job than the entire police department in Friendship, as she locates evidence, breaks into suspects’ houses and even interviews the alleged murderer herself. With a utility belt and dictaphone, Kippy takes things to the extreme which makes her all the more charming. With heaps of twists and turns, a spanner in the works and an unexpected murderer, the mystery was done really well. Some parts of the book are dark and gory, with stuffed real animals and some disgusting evidence, so be warned.

While the book is mostly about Kippy’s personal development through her murder investigation, within it’s pages captures the heart of a flawed small town where gossip and police hold all the power. Colt, the psycho ex-boyfriend and prankster has been arrested as the murderer on the basis of the Sheriff’s dislike for him, after Colt hooked up with his ‘innocent’ daughter. Colt has stepped on a lot of people’s toes from his never ending pranks and playboy reputation and in Friendship, that’s enough to make him a murderer – even though he didn’t know how this girlfriend was actually murdered. It’s hilarious because the town is called Friendship, which is satirical in its own right.

But what do I even do? Because honestly, I don’t even know what I’m after or up against here. I mean, the cops won’t listen and everyone else has their heads inside their butts trying to be polite. Not to mention, Friendship is actually way less boring but maybe also much more weird and creepy than I thought it was, and nobody really prepared me for that. 

Somewhere in there, Kathleen Hale manages to fit in a romance, personal development, close family relations and unlikely friendships – from the Non-Violent Communication Support Group that Kippy is a part of for being a biter and squeezer. There’s no doubt about it, No One Else Can Have You is weird, quirky, and unexpected with a whole lot of small town charm  that lovers of dark comedy will enjoy. I can see how it might not be for everyone – it’s dark and comedic, but I read it in a few hours because it was such a compelling, unique and unusual experience that I’ll recommend to other YA readers and lovers of dark comedy.

Looking back at this review, I don’t think I did the book justice…you’ll better just read it to see what I mean.

I received an ARC of the book for review from Edelweiss and HarperTeen. Quotes are based on the ARC and may be changed in the final, published version.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

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36 responses to “No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale Review: Quirky, dark small town comedy

  1. Amy

    I love the cover. I have yet to read a YA thriller and this one looks great. I'm looking forward to reading this!

  2. Wow! This rating and this view of the book is very different from what I had been seeing on this one, I heard a LOT of bad things about it, but I guess it has all about the way you faces the book you know, if you get the joke you can enjoy it, but if is not your type there is no way.

    Great review.
    Deyse recently posted…The Twisted Window, by Lois DuncanMy Profile

  3. This one definitely stood out due to it's blurb, and now I can't wait to crack it open. From your review, it sounds incredible!!! I love the dark satire, and the characterisation, and the COVER! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Despite all the mixed reviews this one's been getting, I'm definitely picking it up when it hits the shelves in our country. It sounds great, especially since it seems like a book with "romance, personal development, close family relations and unlikely friendships." Great review Jeann!
    Aimee recently posted…Review: The Collector by Victoria ScottMy Profile

  5. I have seen so many different reviews for this one… from the very negative to the very positive like yours, so I think that once again, I'll have to get me this book to make up my own mind!

    Your review really makes it sound like a different book, out of the usual and I really hope it'd live to those expectations!

    Thanks for your honest & spoiler free review, Jeann!
    Pili recently posted…Showcase Sunday #21!My Profile

  6. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed this, Jeann. I ended up loving it too. The quirky characters and the mystery were so entertaining. I thought I was the black sheep in enjoying this, but I'm glad that more and more people are beginning to see how fun this book is.

    Lovely review, Jeann!
    Nick @ Nick's B recently posted…Review : Uninvited by Sophie JordanMy Profile

  7. I think you've just convinced me to pick this one. I was actually very hesitant to get it due to the negative reviews. This one is the second black comedy that I've heard of. The first was Rowling's The Casual Vacancy and it didn't quite work for me. That led me to be wary about books like these. Hahaha. So far, this is the 6th review that I've read for this book, 4 were positive while the other 2 were negative. That means that I really have to try this one and see for myself.

    Glad that this one turned for you perfectly. Wee!
    Charlotte @ Thoughts recently posted…Book Review: AvalonMy Profile

    • Yeah, when I read reviews of Casual Vacancy I didn't think it would be for me either. But the voice here is so fresh and true that I couldn't help but love it 🙂 I kind of like small town reads I guess. Good idea tallying up the negative and positive reviews!

  8. When I read the synopsis, I definitely thought it would be similar to The Lovely Bones. Then I read your review and it sounds like a mix between that, Pretty Little Liars and maybe even The S Word. I adore satiricals that are done properly, and Kippy sounds like a very enjoyable character to read about. I'm definitely very curious about Ruth's diary. Wonderful review Jeann, so glad you loved this!
    Joy @ Thoughts By J recently posted…Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare BlakeMy Profile

    • Oooh sounds like I'd like the S Word, I've heard of it but haven't seen it yet. It is kind of Pretty Little Liars, yes but less teeny bopperish. Thanks Joy, think you'll enjoy this!

  9. I admit…the first time I saw this cover I thought, "Okay, that'll be dorky." But I've heard only good things about it! I'm totally sold now. The quirkiness drags me right in, and well developed characters are always a total bonus. Plus I like dark and funny.
    Cait recently posted…The Selection by Kiera CassMy Profile

  10. I've been hearing mixed reviews and to be honest now I'm quite conflicted whether to read this book or not…while I appreciate the uniqueness, I think this is a book that will you'll either love so much or hate so much….However, I do enjoy reading a murder mystery so I'd like to give it a chance 🙂
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