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Not Even Bones

Review

Not Even Bones

In her stunning debut novel, NOT EVEN BONES, Rebecca Shaeffer transports us to a world that resembles our own in nearly every way --- except for the supernatural creatures, that is.

Nita is a good person. She doesn’t kill supernatural creatures. Or sell their body parts on the dark net. That’s what her mother does. Nita only dissects them. They’re already dead, after all. But when her mother brings home a boy, a living boy, Nita decides she’s finally found her limit.

It takes all her courage, but she defies her mother and frees the boy --- only to find herself kidnapped and in a cage. Nita’s biggest secret, that she herself is an unnatural, is somehow exposed. Her ability is worth a pretty penny of the black market and buyers quickly line up.

"If you love your characters firmly in the morally gray, with plots that are cleverly devious and worlds that are deliciously dark, do not stop, do not hesitate, just go to your nearest bookstore and grab NOT EVEN BONES immediately!"

Alone, trapped and facing the other side of the dissection table, Nita has to figure out how to escape. But she isn’t alone awaiting her fate. In deciding how far she is willing to get out, Nita has to decide what kind of monster she’ll end up becoming along the way.

From the very first page, we know we are dealing with a dark world. While unnatural creatures exist, their acceptance and safety in society at large isn’t as secure. Black markets abound, and even though we learn about the agencies trying to help provide safety, it’s clear that this is not a safe world for anyone not completely human.

This world is gritty, and readers should be prepared for characters that are even more so. Nita, our main character often struggles with the question of her own morals and the fear that she may, in fact, be a sociopath. She is the very definition of anti-hero. This world isn’t one where we struggle to find the good versus bad. It’s more a complex conversation, examining the ideas of what makes a villain, and more importantly, what makes a hero. Can you be both good and bad at the same time? Schaeffer answers with characters that will force you to sit back and consider your reply.

NOT EVEN BONES is an addictive book that explores the idea of what actually makes a person a monster. By creating unnatural beings, Schaeffer gives us literal monsters to use as a basis of comparison. These creatures are actually one of my favorite details in this book. Schaeffer takes the mythical beings we think we know, and turns them into human variations. Your eyes will skim words like unicorn and vampire, but the descriptions are so creative, the execution and detail so incredible, that it feels like we’re meeting these creatures for the first time.

Given the dark themes and questionable morals presented in these pages, NOT EVEN BONES isn’t as gruesome or gory as you might expect. There is violence, and some scenes are not for the squeamish, along with language that aims this book at a more mature reader. Overall, this dark novel doesn’t rely on graphic gore to shock the reader, and will present more complicated ideas of morality to ponder.

If you love your characters firmly in the morally gray, with plots that are cleverly devious and worlds that are deliciously dark, do not stop, do not hesitate, just go to your nearest bookstore and grab NOT EVEN BONES immediately! This is the first in a trilogy and I am dying, one dissected limb at a time, to read the next!

Reviewed by Jena Brown on September 12, 2018

Not Even Bones
by Rebecca Schaeffer

  • Publication Date: September 4, 2018
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Young Adult 14+
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1328863549
  • ISBN-13: 978-1328863546