Book Review: Butterfly Bones by Rebecca Carpenter

by - 3:11:00 AM

Title: Butterfly Bones
Author: Rebecca Carpenter
Pages: 179
Genre: YA Contemporary/ Science Fiction
Release Date: 28 November 2016

From Goodreads: "Bethany should be dead, just like the doctors predicted. But along came the butterflies, altering the order of nature. And now nature is hell bent on revenge. Because when fate's path is disrupted, it's only a matter of time before balance must be restored. At birth, Bethany Keatley was diagnosed with a rare bone disease and sent home from the hospital to die. Despite losing her mother to cancer before she turned two, Bethany defeated her prognosis and now, at fifteen, with hindered growth making her appear ten years old, she is alive and well thanks to the hormone injections which her scientist father developed. But if growing up isn’t hard enough already, being small makes her a target and a social outcast. The only way she's been able to escape her high school tormentors so far is by working hard, achieving good grades, and through her unusual friendship with star football player Jeremiah Wright. That is until a misunderstanding with new girl Zoey Margold. Beautiful and brazen, Zoey and her followers make it their focus to break Bethany. Yet dealing with the bullies becomes the least of Bethany's worries. The mice on which her dad tests the butterfly hormone are showing side effects no one saw coming and now her plan to leave the small minded town of Springs, Georgia and become a scientist has all but shattered. Her world becomes a prison and her existence a life sentence.

But nature has her own plans for Bethany."

Thank you to Lakewater Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for review!

I have no idea where to even begin with this review. This book was nothing like what I expected, and has skyrocketed up the list as one of my favorite reads of 2016. After reading the description several times, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen throughout the book. I'm happy to say that despite my repeated readings of the synopsis, my initial thoughts were wrong. I absolutely loved the way this story went and was not expecting anything that happened throughout the book. Haunting and beautiful, Butterfly Bones will leave you wanting more long after the story ends.

Bethany should be dead like the doctors predicted not long after she was born. With a rare bone disease, she wasn't given a very long life expectancy and was sent home to die with her parents. While Bethany was fighting her disease, her mother was succumbing to lymphoma, and at two years old she eventually defeated her initial prognosis while her mother passed away. At fifteen, the disease has caused Bethany to appear as if she is ten years old, but she's alive and well thanks to her scientist father. He dedicated his life to coming up with a cure for the bone disease and finally managed to develop a hormone injection that keeps the disease at bay. But his work has caused him to be absent from Bethany's life. At home, she has no parental guidance and at school, she's become the target of the wrath of a new student after a simple misunderstanding. To top it all off, she's in love with her best friend who doesn't seem to feel the same way. Thankfully, Bethany plans to leave the small town of Springs, Georgia as soon as she graduates early so that she can become a scientist. But nature has come for revenge, and Bethany is her target.

Let's start from the beginning, I suppose! I think that this book started off fairly slow, and gradually built up more towards the end. Now, this may be because I misunderstood what the synopsis said, but it's possible that it felt slow because I was waiting for some seriously gigantic event to happen all throughout the book. While there was a pretty big event that happened towards the end, it certainly wasn't what I thought it was going to be and it took the story in an entirely different direction. The book really picks up around chapter 20 and takes your emotions through so many loops and turns that you feel like you're stuck on a roller coaster and once it ends, you're sitting there gasping for air wondering what just happened. Throughout most of it, you follow Bethany as she deals with the extreme amount of bullying that she has to go through at school, her crush on her best friend and how he takes her emotions on a roller coaster ride, and how she lives with an all but absent father who is buried in his work. But once you turn the page to that 20th chapter, all aboard the feels train!

Something that I really appreciated was how the author addressed the issue of bullying. What Bethany goes through while she's in school is heartbreaking, and how the teachers address it is atrocious. Not only do none of the teachers believe that Zoey is bullying Bethany, but they constantly punish her and try to make her out to be the bad guy. On top of that, her father is too wrapped up in his work to really notice what's happening to her, so she really is all alone in this situation. It got to the point where Bethany felt like she could never return to school because of how bad it had gotten. It was really rough to read about her having to experience such torment because of a small misunderstanding, but a skewed form of justice is eventually brought upon Zoey later in the book. The message that bullying is real is very prevalent throughout this book and it's a topic that I think needs to be addressed more frequently, especially in YA books. High five, Rebecca Carpenter!

The character development and writing were without a doubt the best parts of the book. Once I was able to sit down and really get into the book, I found myself flying through it and unable to put it down. As I said before, it starts off pretty slow and builds up as you read more, but I think it works for this book. With the slow burn, you get to see all of the ups and downs of the relationship between Bethany and her father and how it develops as he dives deeper into his research and farther away from Bethany, which is really important for the plot. While it is sad, you get to see how the bullying progresses and the toll that it takes on Bethany and her mental state. I've never been a fan of slow build up books, but Butterfly Bones really thrives on it and it adds to the crazy ending that seems to come up way too fast.

Character-wise, Bethany is a clear choice for my favorite. I found myself so attached to her that there were times I was laughing when she let her sass fly, and crying when she was so overwhelmed by all of the bullying she was experiencing. I loved her so much and it was such a treat to read about a girl who aspired to be a scientist! Her development was definitely the best out of any of the characters, with her father being a very close second. Bethany goes from small but mighty to a beautiful, strong, independent butterfly, so to speak. As for her father, he starts off as completely absent in every way that matters, despite being at home 24/7. The relationship between the two is incredibly strained and non-existent, but the more he researches the butterfly hormone for Bethany, the closer the two become. By the end, he held a close second place as my favorite character. But again, with the slow pacing of the book, it feels like you're reading about a real relationship repairing itself from the ground up, and coming to a beautiful conclusion at the end.

With a well-rounded cast of characters, beautiful and thought provoking writing, and an ending that you'll never see coming, Butterfly Bones is the perfect read to pick up if you're looking to turn the contemporary genre on its head. Be sure to pick it up when it releases on 28 November 2016!

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