Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Review: The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison

The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: EgmontUSA (February 14, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1606842633
ISBN-13: 978-1606842638 Series: No
Series: No
Source: ARC provided by Paper Lantern Lit
Cover: I can take or leave this cover. It doesn't wow me but it does fit with the book. I think the blood spatter is interesting but I'm not sure I'd pick this book up based on the cover alone.
First Sentence: I spot her out of the corner of my eye and freeze.

Mini-Review: A YA mystery like nothing you've ever read with interesting chracters and a wildly imaginative setting.

Penelope (Lo) Marin has always loved to collect beautiful things. Her dad's consulting job means she's grown up moving from one rundown city to the next, and she's learned to cope by collecting (sometimes even stealing) quirky trinkets and souvenirs in each new place—possessions that allow her to feel at least some semblance of home.

But in the year since her brother Oren's death, Lo's hoarding has blossomed into a full-blown, potentially dangerous obsession. She discovers a beautiful, antique butterfly pendant during a routine scour at a weekend flea market, and recognizes it as having been stolen from the home of a recently murdered girl known only as "Sapphire"—a girl just a few years older than Lo. As usual when Lo begins to obsess over something, she can't get the murder out of her mind.

As she attempts to piece together the mysterious "butterfly clues," with the unlikely help of a street artist named Flynt, Lo quickly finds herself caught up in a seedy, violent underworld much closer to home than she ever imagined—a world, she'll ultimately discover, that could hold the key to her brother's tragic death.

Finishing The Butterfly Clues is a little like coming back from Wonderland-- that is to say, you feel like you have been someplace wonderful and interesting and completely twisted. It's taken me a few weeks to digest what I read and put my complicated feelings into something comprehensible. The Butterfly Clues combines places you haven't been before in YA fiction with people you haven't likely met into a tale you haven't read before.

Penelope "Lo" Marin is unlike anyone you've met before. She has a severe case of OCD that gets worse under stress. So you can only imagine how much more interesting things get when she becomes obsessed with a murder of a girl she doesn't know and puts herself right in the path of a murderer. I've got mixed feelings about Lo. Her OCD fascinated me but I had a hard time figuring out how I felt about it. Half of the time, it really felt like an illiness and I want her to get help. There are times in the story where it literally hinders her health and makes her life terrible. Not to mention, when people actually shine light on what she's doing, it was sort of horrifiying to me. At the same time, I liked some of her rituals and loved how she could find beauty in mundane things. I feel like "Lo" wouldn't be herself without them. I guess for me, I wish I knew she was one her way to getting a little bit better by the end of the book. The harmless ones could stay but some of her OCD is really unhealthy and as a reader who was vested in her future, I wanted to know she was on her way to getting better.

Lo finds out about Sapphire's murder by accidently stumbling on her home when the murder is occurring. Sapphire is a stripper in a place called Neverland. Neverland is a place where runaways gather and art runs rampant in the streets. Basically, it's all run down buildings, abandoned streets and homeless kids and young adults. This place is bursting with the truly dark like strip clubs, drug users and such with the incredibly beautiful like random treasure finds and hidden beauty. It was a character in and of itself and I loved every description about it. From the birdfeeder bowl where all of Neverland's notes are passed to the little place called "M" where people came to make art, everything about Neverland was interesting. I also really liked the people there.

The author did an awesome of contrasting not only the places where Lo goes (her house in the safe suburbs with the seedy streets of Neverland) but the people as well. For instance, at school there is Jeremy who has a thing for Lo even though he knows about some of her habits. In Neverland there is Flynt who also knows and accepts Lo's habits. I really enjoyed Lo's relationship with Flynt and felt it added a breathe of fresh air to the story.

Ellison's writing was definitely beautiful but it did feel a bit dense at times. I found my eyes skipping over paragraphs, especially when they were overly detailed accounts of the past with Lo's brother. I just felt like some of the details were unneed and really slowed the pace of the story. I did love the murder mystery aspect of ths novel. I love a good clue novel and how Lo could use items to bring herself closer to Sapphire. It made for an interesting angle to a relatively straightforward plot. I will say that I wish there were a few more twists and turns. I did guess who several of the characters were right away--that is to say I knew who the murder was and the identity of someone in Sapphire's past as well. I'm not sure if this is a credit to the writer who did a great job with the clues or whether it could have been buried a little better.

I think the unique places and people in The Butterfly Clues outweighs the few hiccups it has. Though the writing does slow the pace, the fascinating characters and wildly imaginative world more tha make up for it and work to suck the reader in. After added up the clues, my best theory is if you are into mysteries and something a little topsy-turvy, The Butterfly Clues is definitely for you!


Favorite Lines:
The seconds between the reaching and holding are fast and warm; they vibrate like tiny earthquakes.
--Pg. 2 of an ARC of "The Butterfly Clues" by Kate Ellison
I wonder if what draws me to the butterfly is what drew her to it too: not just its dark, pooling glow but the way its wings are folded back like it has just landed-- and not a grand, proud landing, but a solemn, lonely one, a head-bowed one, a middle-of-the-night-leaving-of-somewhere-or-someone landing.
--Pg. 33 of an ARC of "The Butterfly Clues" by Kate Ellison
In Neverland, with Flynt, I'm a killer trash can bowler, a musician...
--Pg. 57-58 of an ARC of "The Butterfly Clues" by Kate Ellison
Maybe the things we think we have to believe are the things that end up killing us in the end, when we figure out we were wrong, about everything.
--Pg. 149 of an ARC of "The Butterfly Clues" by Kate Ellison
Even though I'm embarrassed that he was watching me while I slept, no one else in the world has ever looked at me like he's looking at me right now--like he could stare at me forever and never get bored...
--Pg. 219 of an ARC of "The Butterfly Clues" by Kate Ellison
I breathe in the words, fastened now into the night-- a rope stretched between us that I'd trace back to Flynt's eyes...if I could...
--Pg. 277 of an ARC of "The Butterfly Clues" by Kate Ellison


  1. Okay, I'm seriously wanting to read this now!

  2. Great review! I loved The Butterfly Clues, too. (Thanks again for the book, Amber :)
    And I knew who did the murder, too. It wasn't that hard to figure out. But I didn't guess the identity of that "someone". So I was really surprised with that twist.


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