Title: Breaking Butterflies
Author: M. Anjelais
Genre: YA thriller/contemporary
Length: 352 pages
Published by: Scholastic Australia
Source: received for review (thanks Scholastic!)
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.
This book was captivating from start to finish. It was devastating, terrifying and completely unputdownable. (yes, it’s a word)
It would have been an easy book to hate – I know a lot of other bloggers before me have rated it 1- and 2-stars. And while the message at the end of this book was…erm, a little ambiguous, it was nevertheless a very powerful story.
So our main characters are Sphinx and Cadence. (you’ll never forget those names, that’s for sure) Their parents, childhood best friends, planned that they would have a child each, and name them…well, Sphinx and Cadence, and that the children would grow up and get married. This plan grows increasingly terrifying throughout the book.
Cadence reminded me a bit of Moriarty from Sherlock.
And somehow, despite Cadence being a sociopath and doing really awful things, the author managed to make me sympathetic towards him. I’m still not sure how. But at the same time, I felt so sorry for Sphinx, who should not have had to put up with any of the events in this book. The reason she does, though – the reason she continues to put herself at risk is explained in a way that is understandable.
The tension in this book is incredibly well-done. In the first few chapters I was already invested in the story because of how horrified I was by a particular…event. I suppose I’m just weird like that. I mean, other readers may have stopped there but I COULDN’T.
Maybe it’s because I hate horror movies and have to experience it SOMEWHERE.
So yeah. It’s terrifying. But the writing, by contrast, is lilting and beautiful, and I could not stop thinking about this book for days. I could not stop reading this book until I finished it. I have never read anything like it in my life. The way Cadence goes from Prince Charming to Possibly Homicidal is…chilling.
And then you’ve got this beautiful language and it’s so jarring, but it works. There’s so much more in this book than the vague blurb suggests. It’s about manipulation, mental and physical illness, abusive relationships and…just a lot of things.
All that said, I’m not going to give it 5 stars even though I think it could have been worth it. What I think was missing was the message that Sphinx should not have had to deal with any of this. I was so confused by what message the author was trying to portray, and I think it should have been more emphasised that no matter how sick Cadence may have been, it was not okay for him to manipulate and hurt Sphinx like that. It was not love.
It’s a creepy, disturbing and twisted book, but I can’t deny that I was pulled in from the very beginning. This is a book you will either love or hate.