When I first read Without Merit, I couldn’t put the book down. I read it all in one sitting (that’s 384 pages!), desperate to get to the plot twist and find out the truth about Merit’s secrets.
Without Merit follows the Voss family, who are anything but normal. They live in a church, and the mother lives in the basement while the father lives above with his new wife. The wife in question? The mother’s old cancer nurse.
Merit Voss, our main protagonist, is forced into secrecy by her family. When she meets the dark and mysterious Sagan, she risks it all to escape the perfect illusion her family has thrust on her.
But when her plan fails, she is forced to deal with the harrowing consequences of her actions. This powerful story explores family ties, how brittle they can be under the surface, and the true meaning of love and truth.
If you loved this book as much as I did, then you’ll love these recommendations I have. They all chase the same urgency as Without Merit, and you’ll be desperate to finish them as quickly as possible. Get ready for some real page-turners!
Without Merit is a hard-hitting story of betrayal, love, and family ties. If you couldn’t get enough, then you’ll love books like One True Loves, Twisted Love, and Archer’s Voice. Keep reading for our full list of recommendations. Get the tissues ready!
Themes In Without Merit
First and foremost, the main theme in Without Merit is family bonds. It explores the way that many families are tied together with lies, unbeknown to anyone around them.
While the Voss family looks perfect from the outside, the truth is much darker than they’re letting on.
The book really examines how these ties affect families from the children’s point of view, and how easily they can unravel and send everyone into turmoil.
Following this, Without Merit also explores mental health and how this can be influenced by outside afflictions.
Merit Voss is weighed down by her family’s secrets and is pushed to breaking point once she overhears the biggest of all, and we get to see the detrimental effects this can have on a young mind.
Since Without Merit is about the entire family rather than just Merit herself, we get to see how all of the members are affected by mental struggles.
We also get to learn about the individual symptoms of each illness, which is interesting for people who might not have seen them before.
Other themes of Without Merit include self-discovery and social issues, such as the Syrian refugee crisis and prejudice.
The book does well to cover a range of different themes, ensuring that while it is a story about family first, it is not one-dimensional and had many more layers we could unpack about Merit and Sagan.
Books Like Without Merit
Love And Other Words follows the powerful story of friendship between Macy and Elliot, in a dual timeline. Macy has recently lost her mother and is now navigating the new family dynamic with just her and her father.
On the other hand, Elliot has a large, boisterous family that Macy wishes she could be a part of. Their journey from then (in their teenage years) to now (11 years later) is a mixture of love, betrayal, friendship, and silence.
This book is perfect for any lover of Without Merit as it explores similar themes with a secret that has you willing your eyes to read quickly so you can find out what it is.
- Dual timeline to build suspense
- A highly anticipated secret only told at the end
- Romantic undertones
- Not the best for people who don’t like past and present timelines
Themes: Love, family ties, death, betrayal, trust, friendship, grief, and loss.
One True Loves follows the story of Emma Blair, who married her childhood sweetheart Jesse in her 20s. They built a life for themselves far away from their hometown, never wanting to stay in place for too long.
But when Jesse’s helicopter goes missing on their first wedding anniversary, Emma must come to terms with his death. She moves home to be closer to family and, 10 years later, is engaged to an old friend Sam.
Emma has her second chance at happiness, and everything is finally falling back into place. But when she gets a phone call from Jesse, who tells her he’s been trying all these years to get back to her, she must make an impossible decision.
- Explores aging gracefully and how we change with age
- Fun and fast-paced
- Leaves you guessing throughout the entire book
- The second half of the book felt a little drawn out
Themes: Love, despair, aging, family, second chances, childhood, friendship, and grief.
Bad boy Knox likes to live life alone, with only his dog to keep him company. He’s not interested in drama, even if it comes in the form of a runaway bride. Naomi, the bride in question, wasn’t running away from her wedding.
She was racing to rescue her twin, Tina, who had been estranged for years. Unfortunately for Naomi, Tina hadn’t changed at all.
After running away with Naomi’s cars and money, she’s left stranded with an 11-year-old niece to take care of.
Knox begrudgingly decides to help, but the mild trouble quickly turns into real danger that they both must work together to solve.
- Offers a grumpy sunshine trope
- Plenty of romance is sprinkled throughout a slow-burn book
- Fast-paced with plenty of action
- Plenty of subplots that can overcomplicate the book
Themes: Mental health, family bonds, grief, romance, passion, courage, and found family.
When Bree Prescott moves to a sleepy town in Maine, she hopes to heal herself and get some much-needed rest from her horrifying memories. But life has another plan for her, and on her first day she meets Archer Hale.
Archer is a man that has a secret of his own. He lives in solitude, isolated from everyone else. But is that his choice? It turns out that no one else can see Archer other than Bree.
While she is chained to a memory that won’t give her peace, Archer might just be her token of freedom. Archer lives with an unhealable wound, and Bree helps him find his voice.
- A heart-wrenching tale of love and loss
- Get the tissues ready
- Lovable characters that stay with you after you finish the book
- Spice rating is high so this book is not recommended for those under 18
Themes: Love, loss, grief, passion, family, isolation, mental health, and desperation.
Alex Volkov is a handsome man with a terrible secretive past that he cannot escape. Still haunting him to this day, he ruthlessly pursues success and vengeance, with no time for love.
Ava Chen is a sunshine girl that is silently tormented by childhood nightmares deeply repressed in her subconscious. Despite the pain these cause, she never fails to see the good in the world.
Their love was forbidden, but they’re drawn to each other no matter how hard they try. But will their joining help them heal, or will it destroy them?
- An opposites-attract love story
- Great for those who love darker contemporary romances
- Secrets and plot twists will keep you captivated
- Explores adult themes and is only suitable for those over 18
Themes: Dark romance, secrets, family ties, betrayal, loss, friendship, and mental health.
Without Merit was marketed as a book much different from many of Colleen Hoover’s other feats (If you liked her works, you should also check out similar authors to Colleen Hovoer here). It is more than just a romance and adds layers of family, friendship, and mental health over the top.
I found Archer’s Voice to be most like this, with romance being the main theme but the guessing of their secrets keeping you gripped.
The best books will have you on the edge of your seat the entire time, and Archer’s Voice certainly did that for me.
All of the books I have recommended here are similar to Without Merit, mostly because of the shocking twists near the end of the book and the romantic journey you need to follow to get there.
They also explore family bonds and how these affect characters more than they might think. Which one will you try first?
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Without Merit Sad?
The feelings Merit displays of despair and hurt are relatable to the reader, and it is easy to empathize with her. While it is not marketed as a sad book, it can leave you feeling discouraged and empathetic.
Is Without Merit Worth Reading?
Yes, if you enjoy stories that delve deeper than a surface romance. This story looks at an entire family unit and how it works together to bring both love and destruction.
If you liked this article, you might enjoy our post, ‘3 Books Like Emma In The Night (By Wendy Walker)‘.
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