Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais – Disturbing But Gripping

Title: breaking butterfliesBreaking 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.

Rating: 4/5 Wonderkitties


15 thoughts on “Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais – Disturbing But Gripping

  1. Eheh….well I’m glad you enjoyed (probably not the right word? well, you know what I mean!) it, though, because I was really really disturbed. I had no idea what message the author was sending and I felt kind of sick about the whole matter. 😦 I agree it was unputdownable (THAT IS A WORD). I had to know how it ended up. It just made me angry that the parents let Sphinx be in a position to be hurt. Like they all were just crossing their fingers that it wouldn’t happen. I felt like no one was there for Sphinx. Although…I’m kind of mad that she wasn’t looking out for herself either. ANYWAY. Glad you enjoyed it. 😉

    • Yes, enjoyed is probably the wrong word haha. For me personally, I didn’t mind having the ambiguous message, because I do know what my own thoughts are on the matter (STAY AWAY FROM CADENCE). But at the same time, I think authors kind of have a responsibility in YA fiction to provide that positive message. So that’s where I’m torn.

  2. Great review Emily, I thought this book was incredibly gripping, complex and unique and just WOW! My only gripe is that Sphinx seemed completely naive, stupid and gullible and I just wanted to smack some self-preservation into her.

    • That’s exactly what I thought as well. Sphinx’s character was really confusing to me and I wished she would put herself out of that situation – but I guess it’s also realistic in that people ARE brought into abusive relationships, if not like this than similar.

  3. I have read a lot of negative reviews on this book, but your review got me curious. It might be a hit or miss book but it’s intriguing plot makes me want to read this more. Thank you for sharing your review and giving a different kind of opinion. No BS here, but you really got me more curious and I am definitely adding this to my tbr list.

    Ella @ The Filipina Booknote

  4. WOW! This book certainly gave you quite an impact despite being terrifying and disturbing, but I get it. I really, really do. There are just some books like that that have themes that are dark and unexplored, and we are all so fascinated by them. I’ve been there and I totally understand you! ❤ Now I am even more curious about this one and am VERY eager to read it!

    Faye at The Social Potato

  5. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves and the end of school holidays *sigh* | The Loony Teen Writer

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