I read this months ago, but finally I get to discuss it with you!
WARNING, though: This is kind of a disturbing book and I was pretty freaked by the messages it was sending. But, like I always say: don’t just listen to me, you read it.
Thank you Scholastic Australia for the review-copy! Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais hits shelves in August, 2014.
The closest he will ever come to happiness is when he’s hurting her. Will she let him? A beautiful and twisted story of first love and innocence lost — written when the author was just eighteen.
Sphinxie and Cadence. Promised to each other in childhood. Drawn together again as teens. Sphinxie is sweet, compassionate, and plain. Cadence is brilliant, charismatic. Damaged. And diseased. When they were kids, he scarred her with a knife. Now, as his illness progresses, he becomes increasingly demanding. She wants to be loyal — but fears for her life. Only the ultimate sacrifice will give this love an ending.
I’m going to sum up my feelings of this book as eloquently as possible: I cannot even. I am wordless. BUT WAIT. See there’s two kinds of mindblown. There’s oh-my-gosh-that-was-clever-and-intelligent-and-I-didn’t-see-those-twists-coming. Then there’s: what just what. To me, Breaking Butterflies falls in the “what just what” category. My entire thoughts are basically: what did I just read…no.
I can’t decide what I think about this book because it enthralled me with dreamy writing and horrified me with conclusion.
When I finished all I could think was, “I hope I never ever let myself be put into an abusive friendship like that and brainwash myself into thinking it’s good.”
It is not okay to be bullied.
Never! I don’t care if the bully is dying of leukaemia or if the bully has a mental illness and they can’t help it. Maybe they can’t. Maybe they don’t deserve to be blamed. But YOU do not deserve to be treated maliciously by them.
Let me explain. Briefly though, because I’m not giving away spoilers.
There’s lots more than this, but basically:
Cadence has leukaemia and less than a year to live. He’s also a sociopath.
Sphinx (our bonnie lassie narrator) is staying with him during this time, because their mothers were best friends as children and Sphinx feels she owes it to Cadence to stay with him. Even though he attacked her when they were children. Aaaand even though he is 16 now and still attacks her sometimes. AND THIS SCARES HER BUT ALSO ENTHRALLS HER.
Sometimes, I thought he could do anything to me and I wouldn’t care, if it would only make him feel something.
Look, I understand this book is dealing with mental illness.
Kudos to the author! That is not an easy subject to tackle. I absolutely appreciate that. What I want to point out though, is that I (as the reader) didn’t understand Sphinx. She narrates. She’s the one we’re experiencing the book through. And she, as she puts it, is “average”. I struggled with her because she had a warped version of Stockholm syndrome. Cadence didn’t literally kidnap her, but even after he hurt her, she still wanted to be around him.
Because….guilt? That she turned out normal and Cadence didn’t? Belief that she could make a difference in Cadence’s life? Just the overwhelming empathetic feeling that if she could possibly do something for Cadence she would die trying?
I get all that. It’s nice. It’s sweet. Sphinx is a glorious representation of kind hearted humans who will do anything to be nice and help lost people find themselves.
But is that a good message to give to readers?
Sure, help people, and if they hurt you, that’s okay!
Um…I’m going to go with: no?
Besides from reading about people getting hurt and psychologically tormented, the story didn’t go anywhere. It just happened. Reality check? Fine. But books need conclusions.
But the writing was beautiful!
If a bit on the wordy side. The narration often repeated itself or added in scenes where nothing, absolutely nothing happened. I loved Sphinx’s voice though. She was a very well-written character. Herself as a person? Well, she needed a serious wakeup call. But YA is about discovering yourself, so I’m not arguing with her personality.
This book explored some seriously deep topics.
Lots of life and death stuff. Lots of questions. Lots of considering humans and emotions. It touches mental illness, terminal illness, scars, mild PTSD, divorce, growing up, and dying. HEY THAT’S A LOT OF STUFF. The problem? It touches them. I wonder if the book had picked a few topics and really delved into them, if it might have seemed less pointless and depressing.
I actually couldn’t put the book down. But honestly? The book scared me with the eluding to bullying being okay as long as the bully has a good reason for it. THIS IS WRONG AND NOT OKAY. I don’t really recommend this book, but by all means…read it. Discuss it with me. If you need to hyperventilate and rant afterwards — I am here in the same pickle.
Cait read this book months ago and so, while editing up this review, she again felt marginally disturbed by this book. She’d also like to point out that when she read it NONE of her friends had. She was left in a frantic flap NEEDING to discuss it with someone. She basically attacked some poor random reviewer on Goodreads and discussed the book in long detailed comments. Coincidentally, she made a new Goodreads friend. (Goodreads is the best website, just so you know.)