Not Even Bones

Not Even Bones

by Rebecca Schaeffer

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781328863546
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 09/04/2018
Series: Market of Monsters Series , #1
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 68,987
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Rebecca Schaeffer was born and raised in the Canadian prairies. Her itchy feet took her far from home. You can find her sitting in a cafe on the other side of the world, writing about villains, antiheroes, and morally ambiguous characters. She is the author of Not Even Bones, the first in a dark YA fantasy trilogy.
www.rschaefferbooks.com
Twitter: @rrschaeffer.
Instagram: @rebecca_schaeffer

Read an Excerpt

ONE

NITA STARED AT the dead body lying on the kitchen table. Middle-aged, and in the place between pudgy and overweight, he wore a casual business suit and a pair of wire-rimmed glasses with silver handles that blended into the gray at his temples. He was indistinguishable on the outside from any other human—the inside, of course, was a different matter.
     “Another zannie?” Nita scowled at her mother and crossed her arms as she examined the body. “That’s not even Latin American. I thought we moved to Peru to hunt South and Central American unnaturals? Chupacabras and pishtacos and whatever.”
     It wasn’t that zannies were common, but Nita had dissected plenty during the months she and her mother spent in Southeast Asia last year. She’d been looking forward to dissecting something new. If she’d wanted to cut up the same unnaturals as usual, she would have asked to stay with her dad in the States and work on unicorns.
     Her mother shrugged, draping her jacket over a chair. “I saw a zannie, so I killed it. I mean, it was right in front of me. How could I resist?” Her black-and-red-striped bangs fell forward as she dipped her head and half smiled.
     Nita shifted her feet, looking at the corpse again. She sighed. “I suppose you’ll want me to dissect and package it for sale?”
     “Good girl.” Her mother grinned.
     Nita went around to the other side of the dead body. “Care to help me move it to the workroom?”
     Her mother rolled up her sleeves, and together they heaved the round, deceptively heavy body down the hall and onto a smooth metal table in the other room. White walls and fluorescent lights made it look like a hospital surgery room. Scalpels and bone saws lay in neat lines on the shelves, and a scale for weighing organs rested in front of a box of jars. In the corner, a tub of formaldehyde caused everything to reek of death. The smell kept sneaking out of the room and making its way into Nita’s clothes. She found it strangely comforting. That was probably a bad sign.
     But, if Nita was being honest with herself, most of her habits and life choices were bad signs.
     Her mother winked at Nita. “All ready for you.”
     Nita looked down at her watch. “It’s nearly midnight.”
     “And?”
     “And I want to sleep sometime.”
     “So do it later.” Her mother waved it aside. “It’s not like you have anything to get up for.”
     Nita paused, then bowed her head in acceptance. Even though it had been years since her mother had decided to illegally take Nita out of school, she still had some leftover instinct telling her not to go to bed too late. Which was silly, because even if she’d had school, she’d gladly have skipped it for a dissection. Dissections were fun.
     Nita pulled on a white lab coat. She always liked wearing it—it made her feel like a real scientist at a prestigious university or laboratory somewhere. Sometimes she put the goggles on even when she didn’t need to just so she could complete the look.
     “When are you heading out again?”
     Her mother washed her hands in the sink. “Tonight. I got a tip when I was bringing this beauty back. I’m flying to Buenos Aires.”
     “Pishtacos?” asked Nita, trying to hold in her excitement. She’d never had a chance to dissect a pishtaco. How would their bodies be modified for a diet made completely of human body fat? The promise of a pishtaco dissection was the only thing that had convinced Nita moving to Peru was a good idea. Her mother always knew how to tempt her.
     Nita frowned. “Wait, there are no pishtacos in Argentina.”
     Her mother laughed. “Don’t worry. It’s something even better.”
     “Not another zannie.”
     “No.”
     Her mother dried her hands and headed back toward the kitchen, calling out as she went, “I’m going to head to the airport now. If all goes well, I should be back in two days.”
     Nita followed and found her sitting, booted feet on the kitchen table as she unscrewed the top of the pisco bottle from the fridge and took a swig. Not cocktail-drink pisco, or mixed-with-soda pisco, just straight. Nita had tried it once when she was home alone, thinking it would be a good celebration drink to ring in her seventeenth birthday. It didn’t burn as much as whisky or vodka, or even sake, but it kicked in fast, and it kicked in hard. Her mother had found her with her face squished against the wall, crying because it wouldn’t move for her. Then Mom had laughed and left her there to suffer. She showed Nita the pictures afterward—there was an awful lot of drool on that wall.
     Nita hadn’t sampled anything in the liquor cabinet since.
     “Oh, and Nita?” Her mother put the pisco on the table.
     “Yeah?”
     “Don’t touch the head. It has a million-dollar bounty. I plan to claim it.”
     Nita looked down the hall, toward the room with the dead body. “I’m pretty sure the whole wanted-dead-or-alive thing ended in the Old West. If you just turn this guy’s head over, you’ll be arrested for murder.”
     Her mother rolled her eyes. “Why, thank you, Nita, for teaching me such an important lesson. Whatever would I do without you?”
     Nita winced. “Um.”
     “The zannie is wanted for war crimes by the Peruvian government. He was a member of the secret police under the Fujimori administration.”
     No surprise there. Pretty much every zannie in the world was wanted for some type of war crime. When your biological imperative was to torture people and eat their pain, there were only so many career paths open to you.
     That reminded Nita—there was an article in the latest issue of Nature on zannies that she wanted to read. Someone who had clearly dissected fewer zannies than Nita, but with access to better equipment, had written a detailed analysis of how zannies consumed pain. There were all sorts of theories about how pain was relative, and the same injury on two people could be perceived completely differently. The scientists had been researching zannies—was it the severity of the injury that fed them, or the person’s perception of how much it hurt?
     They’d also managed to prove that while zannies could consume emotional pain, as well as physical, the effect was significantly less. Emotional and physical pain receptors overlapped in the brain center, so the big question was, why did causing other people severe physical pain feed zannies, while causing severe emotional pain had less effect? Nita privately thought it was because physical pain had the added signals from nociceptors, but she was curious to see what others thought.
     Her mother continued, oblivious to Nita’s wandering mind. “A number of interested parties have offered very large bounties for his head. They, unlike the government, don’t care if he’s alive to face trial.” There was a sharp flash of teeth. “And I’m happy to oblige them.”
     She rose, put the pisco away, and pulled on her burgundy leather jacket. “Can you have him all packed up by the time I get back?”
     Nita nodded. “Yeah, I think so.”
     Her mother came over and kissed the top of her head. “What would I ever do without you, Anita?”
     Before Nita could formulate a response, her mother was out the door. There was a creak and then a bang, and the house was silent. When her mother departed, sometimes Nita felt like she took more than just noise. She had a presence, a tangible energy to her that filled the house. Without her, it felt hollow. Like the life had left, and there was only a dead zannie in its place.
     Which, really, there was. Nita turned back to her newest project and allowed herself a small smile. A pishtaco or a chupacabra would have been better, but she’d still enjoy a zannie.
     The first thing she did was empty its pockets. An old-fashioned timepiece, some Brazilian reais (no Peruvian soles though, which was odd), and a wallet. Nita gazed at it a long time before putting it on the tray, unopened. Her mother would have already taken the credit cards and used them to get as much cash as possible before ditching them. The only other things left in the wallet would be identity cards, club memberships—things that would tell her about the person she was dissecting.
     Nita had learned a long time ago—you don’t want to know anything about the person whose body you’re taking apart.
     Better to think that it wasn’t a person at all. And really—it wasn’t. This was a zannie.
     Nita took an elastic and tied her hair back in a puffy attempt at a ponytail. Her hair tended to grow sideways in frizzy kinks instead of down. In the glow of the fluorescent lights, its normally medium-brown color took on an orange tint. No one else thought it looked orange, but Nita insisted—she liked orange.
     She put a surgical mask over her mouth, just below her freckle-spattered cheekbones, before putting the goggles on. After snapping on a pair of latex gloves, she rolled her tool set over to the metal slab where the body rested. She slipped her earbuds in and flicked on her Disney playlist.
     It was time to begin.

Nita couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t been fascinated by dead things—perhaps because her home was always full of them. As far back as she could remember, her parents had acquired the bodies of unnaturals and sold the pieces on the internet. The darknet, to be specific. Black market body part sellers didn’t just post their items on eBay. That was how you ended up with a short visit from the International Non-Human Police—INHUP—and a long stint in jail.
     When Nita was younger, she used to run around the room, bringing her parents empty jars. Big glass ones for the heart, small vials and bags for the blood. Afterward, she’d label them and line them up on the shelf. Sometimes she’d stare at them, pieces of people she’d never met. There was something calming about the still hearts, floating in formaldehyde. Something peaceful. No more beating, no more thumping rhythm and noise. Just silence.
     Sometimes, she would look at the eyes, and they would stare back. Direct, open gazes. Not like living people, who flicked their eyes here and there while they lied, who could cram an entire conversation into a single gaze. The problem was, Nita could never understand what they were saying. It was better after people were dead. The eyes weren’t so tricky anymore.
     It took Nita all night and the better part of the next day to finish with the zannie, put everything in jars of formaldehyde or freezer containers, and clean the dissection room until it sparkled.
     The sun was up, and she didn’t feel tired, so she went to her favorite park on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Tropical trees with large, bell-shaped flowers covered the benches like a canopy, and blue and white mosaics patterned the wall that prevented people from tumbling over the side of the cliff and into the sparkling waters below. Newspapers sat abandoned on the benches, from tabloids announcing Penelope Alvarez looks twenty at age forty-five. Good skin care or something more “unnatural”? to official news sources with headlines like Should Peru sign into INHUP? The advantages and disadvantages to an extraterritorial police force for unnatural-related incidents.
     Peru was one of the only South American countries left that wasn’t a part of INHUP. There were always a few countries on every continent that stayed out so that black market dealers had somewhere to flee when INHUP finally nailed them. Certain people paid politicians handsomely to ensure it stayed that way.
     Nita took a seat far away from the other people in the park. Under the shade of a floripondio tree, she cracked open her medical journals on unnaturals.
     Sometimes it was frustrating reading them and knowing they were wrong about certain things. While lots of unnaturals were “out” and recognized by the world, most still hid, afraid of public backlash. So when the journals talked about zannies being the only species of unnatural that consumed nontangible things, like pain, Nita wished she could point out that there were creatures who consumed memories, strong emotions, and even dreams. INHUP just hadn’t officially recognized them yet. INHUP was big on doing damage control, and part of trying to decrease racism and discrimination against unnaturals was not telling people just how many types there were.
     It also kept people like Nita’s mother from finding out about them. Sometimes.
     Nita whiled the afternoon away in the shade of the tree, devouring medical research like candy, until the sun dipped so low there wasn’t enough light to read by.
     When Nita got home, she was greeted by a string of expletives.
     She crept into the hall, shoulders tight with tension. Her mother could be unpredictable when angry. Nita had been on the receiving end before and wasn’t eager to repeat the experience.
     But ignoring her mother was more dangerous, so Nita padded into the kitchen.
     “What are you doing?” Nita gaped, staring at the mess.
     Her mother tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and gave Nita a wry smile. Around her, empty shipping crates littered the floor, along with packing materials like bubble wrap and Styrofoam worms. A gun sat on the kitchen table, and Nita briefly wondered what it was doing out.
     “I want to have the zannie parts shipped out tomorrow. We’ve got something new, and to be frank, this apartment isn’t big enough to hold all the parts.” Her mother flashed her another smile.
     Nita was inclined to agree. Her dissection room was already at capacity, and they’d only dissected one zannie. There really wasn’t room for a second body.
     “Something new, huh? I take it everything went well, then?”
     Nita’s mother laughed. “Do things ever go well with unnaturals that aren’t on the list?”
     Among the unnaturals that were public knowledge, there was a list of “dangerous unnaturals”—unnaturals whose continued existence depended on them murdering other people. It wasn’t a crime to kill them in INHUP member countries, it was “preemptive self-defense.” But anything not on the list, the harmless unnaturals (which was most of them, in Nita’s experience), it was very much a crime to kill.
     Her mom mostly brought Nita unnaturals on the list. Mostly.
     Nita knew her mother had probably killed a lot of not-evil, not-dangerous people and sold them. She tried not to think about it too much, because really, there wasn’t much she could do about it, was there?
     Besides, they were always dead by the time they got to Nita. And if they were already dead, it would be a shame to let their bodies go undissected.
     Speaking of . . .
     “What did you bring back?” Nita asked, weaving through the crates to the fridge, where she took out last night’s leftovers and shoved them into the microwave.
     “Something special. I put it in the dissection room.”
     Nita felt her fingers twitch, the imaginary scalpel in her hand making a sliding cut through the air, like a Y incision. She couldn’t wait for the slow, relaxing evening, just her and the body. The straight autopsy lines, the jars full of organs watching over her, like her own weird guardian angel.
     She shivered with anticipation. Sometimes she scared herself.
     Her mother looked at Nita out of the corner of her eyes. “I have to say, this one was tricky to get.”
     Nita removed her food from the microwave and sat down at the kitchen table. “Oh, do tell?”
     Her mother smiled, and Nita settled in for a good story. “Well, it wasn’t hard at the beginning. Buenos Aires was lovely, and hunting down my tip was easy. Even acquiring our new . . . I don’t even know what to call him.”
     Nita raised her eyebrows. Her mother knew every unnatural. It was her job. This one must be something really rare.
     “Well, anyway.” Her mother sat down beside her. “It wasn’t even so bad getting him. Security wasn’t too much of an issue, easily dealt with. The problem was getting him back.”
     Nita nodded. Airlines usually frowned on stuffing dead bodies into overhead bins.
     Her mother gave her a conspiratorial wink. “But then I thought, well, why don’t I just pretend he’s a traveler? So I put him in a wheelchair, and the airline never even guessed.”
     “Wait, a wheelchair?” Nita scowled. “But wouldn’t they notice that he didn’t, well, move or breathe or anything when they were helping him to his seat?”
     She laughed. “Oh, he’s not dead. I just drugged the hell out of him.”
     Nita’s fingers twitched, then froze. Not dead.
     She gave her mother a sickly smile. “You said you put him in my room?”
     “Yes, I spent the morning installing the cage. Bugger of a thing. You know they don’t make human-size cages anymore? And I had to get the handcuffs at a sex shop.”
     Nita sat there for a long moment, smile frozen like a rictus on her face. Then she rose and began making her way through the crates to her dissection room.
     Her mother followed. “This one’s a little different. He’s quite valuable, so I’d really like to milk him a bit for blood and such before we harvest the organs.”
     But Nita wasn’t listening. She had opened the door to see with her own eyes.
     Part of her beautiful, sterile white room was now taken up by a large cage, which had been bolted to the wall. Her mother had put a padlock and chain around the door. Inside the cage, a boy with dark brown hair lay unconscious in the fetal position. Given the size of the cage, it was probably the only way he could lie down.
     “What is he?” Nita waited for her mother to list off the heinous things he did to survive. Maybe he ate newborn babies and was actually five hundred years old instead of the eighteen or nineteen he looked.
     Her mother shrugged. “I don’t know if there’s a name for what he is.”
     “But what kind of unnatural is he? Explain it.” Nita felt her voice rising and forced it to calm down. “I mean, you know what he does, right?”
     Her mother laughed. “He doesn’t do much of anything. He’s an unnatural, that much I’m sure of, but I don’t think you’ll find any external signs of it. He was being kept by a collector in Buenos Aires.”
     “So . . . why do we want him?” Nita pushed, surprised at how much she needed an answer, a reason to justify the cage in her room and the small, curled-up form of the boy. His jeans and T-shirt looked like they were spattered with something, and Nita wondered if it was blood.
     “Ah. Well, he’s supposedly quite delicious, you know. Something about him. That collector had been selling vials of his blood—vials, not bags, mind you—for nearly ten thousand each. US dollars, not soles or pesos. Dollars. One of his toes went up for auction online last year, and the price was six digits. For a toe.”
     Her mother had a wide, toothy grin, and her eyes were alight at the prospect of how much money an entire body could make. Nita wondered how soon the boy’s time would be up. Her mother preferred cash in hand to cash in the future, so Nita doubted the boy would be prisoner for long.
     “I already put him up online, and we have a buyer for another toe. So I took the liberty of cutting it off and mailing it while we were in Argentina.”
     It took a few moments for Nita to register her mother’s words. Then she looked down, and sure enough, the boy’s feet were bare and bloody. One foot had been hastily wrapped in bandages, but they’d turned red as the blood soaked through.
     Her mother tapped her finger to her chin. “The only problem is, his pieces need to be fresh—well, as fresh as we can get them. So we’ll sell all the extremities first, as they’re ordered. He should be able to survive without those, and we can bottle the blood when we remove them and sell it as well. We’ll do the internal organs and such later, once we’ve spread the word. Shouldn’t take too long.”
     Nita’s mind spun in circles, not quite processing what her mother was saying. “You want to keep him here and cut pieces off  him while he’s still alive?”
     “Exactly.”
     Nita didn’t even know what to say to that. She didn’t deal with live people. Her subjects were dead.
     “He’s not . . . dangerous?” Nita asked, unable to tear her eyes off the bandages around the missing toes.
     Her mother snorted. “Hardly. He got unlucky in the genetic draw. As far as I can tell, everyone wants to eat him, and he has no more defenses than an ordinary human.”
     The boy stirred in the cage and tried to twist himself around to look at them. Nita’s heart clenched. It was pathetic.
     Her mother clapped her on the shoulder before turning around. “We’re going to make good money off him.”
     Nita nodded, eyes never straying from the cage. Her mother left the room, calling for Nita to help her organize the crates in the kitchen so they could start packing the zannie parts.
     The boy lifted his head and met Nita’s eyes. His eyes were gray-blue and wide with fear. He reached a hand up, but it stopped short, the handcuffs pulling it back down toward the bottom of the cage.
     He swallowed, eyes never leaving Nita’s.
     “Ayúdame,” he whispered.
     Help me.

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Not Even Bones 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
BookPrincessReviews 5 months ago
3.5 crowns! This was an odd little book that I both really enjoyed and was really detached for it. This is quite unlike any book in YA that I've ever read, and Schaeffer did some amazing things with it, but other parts just kind of fell apart. What I Liked: - morally gray characters that stayed morally gray and left a LOT of questions on what it means to be good, bad, or something in between. Loved the dynamic of them and makes you question a lot, and it was some good thinking. - the characters were intriguing and interesting. While I never really felt a strong, strong connection to any of them, I did feel like they were dynamic and fit right for the story. Nita was definitely a strong, compelling heroine for the story. She was morbid af, but it worked so so well. - the world was wholly intriguing and intricate. I would have liked a little more understanding how people gained their powers, but I loved the world that Schaeffer created. The black market, the INHUP, and more were such intriguing plots/concepts. - the setting. It was wonderfully done and quite well crafted. - the twist at the endddddd. Not the cliffhanger but maybe 3/4 in? I didn't expect it, and it really picked it back up for me. - no real romance - yes, YA without the feels - which is what this story needed What I Disliked: - I really felt a disconnect from it. I'm not sure if it was the writing or if it was just a personal preference, but I just never really connected with it fully. I think it might have been a personal preference, but I just felt like I was not fully in deep with it. - I think it hit a lull about halfway through, and I really just wanted it to hurry up and move along. Again, there were things happening, but I just wasn't as intrigued anymore. Overall, this was such an intriguing read, but it did have its flaws. If you're looking for something that is just totally out of the norm of YA, this book is totally for you. It has morally complicated questions and brings up a lot of questions on what was good/bad/something in between with an interesting and complex world full of magic. The main issue was the disconnect that I felt for the book, but overall, it was a pretty good read. 3.5 crowns and a Jasmine rating!
book_junkee 7 months ago
Everything about this book — from the cover to the tag line — seems like it’s for me. Sadly I was quite disappointed. I liked Nita well enough. She didn’t come across as developed and I found it sort of hard to root for her {excluding the captivity part} because I wasn’t invested in her story. My favorite character was Kovit and I did like the interactions between him and Nita. Plot wise, it was sort of meh. There isn’t any sort of world building or explanation for the hows and whys. The relationships were all very shallow and lacking background. I see that it’s not a stand alone, which is what I expected going in, but I don’t think that makes up for the lack of information. Overall, it was an amazing idea with an intriguing ending, but the execution wasn’t for me. I’m not sure if I will be giving the next book a try. **Huge thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing the arc free of charge**
Pens-and-Parchment 7 months ago
I hesitate to even call this a review, since it's much more of an explanation why this book isn't for me than a comprehensive look at what could have been better. Let me just start with a huge disclaimer: I only read the first two chapters of this book. That's way less of a chance than I usually give a book, and certainly a lot less than I typically give a book for review. But since the opening lines, I just got a bad feeling while reading this. The story focuses on Nita, a Latina girl who essentially helps her mother dissect demons and sell their body parts on the internet. Except these supernatural creatures come in human form, so Nita's dissections are much more gruesome to imagine. I'm really not a person to shy away from blood in a book, and the descriptions in Not Even Bones (at least in the beginning) aren't nearly as graphic as the ones you might read in Stalking Jack the Ripper or crossover fantasy novels. What really turned me off of this book was the callous and almost comical disregard for human (or I guess, not-so-human) life. The story starts with Nina's mother bringing home a living boy for dissection, but she oh-so-nonchalantly goes into detail about all the different organs and limbs they need to harvest while he's still alive. It was just...too much for me. Truly, the idea of cutting up a live boy is awful. I can deal with human abuse or violence when it's written in a reverent or very purposeful manner, but there almost seemed be a layer of sardonic irony behind all the gore in this book. I think some people may get a kick out of it, especially if you're someone that likes cheesy horror movies, since this seemed to run in a Halloween-y vein. Trigger Warnings for Blood/Gore/Dismemberment: "Her mother tapped her finger to her chin. 'The only problem is, his pieces need to be fresh - well, as fresh as we can get them. So we'll sell all the extremities first, as they're ordered. He should be able to survive without those, and we can bottle the blood when we remove them and sell it as well. We'll do the internal organs and such later, once we've spread the word. Shouldn't take long.'" This story is also the type where the main character learns how morally wrong they were and eventually corrects whatever offensive behavior or belief they had, but not before the reader has to witness such atrocities a few times. I do think these kinds of stories are important, but more often than not I find myself disliking them. So even if it weren't for the weird gore, I don't think this book would be for me. After reading two chapters where all I wanted was to simultaneously crawl out of my own skin and clench my eyes shut, I didn't see a point in continuing. There are too many books and not nearly enough time to read ones that don't grab me from the start. I think if you enjoy kitschy humor or exaggerated gore/violence, you might like this book.
Anonymous 8 months ago
This book is amazing. Fast-paced, dark and scary, full of all the action and adventure I could have possibly wanted. Everything about it stands out: the unique setting, the complex characters (including a protagonist whose main skill/interest/hobby is dissecting monsters), the skillful pacing. Would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes dark fantasy, but also in particular to people (esp older teens) who don't read a lot because they find it boring... there's not a boring moment in this book. Almost every chapter ends on a cliffhanger or a moment of great danger or a turning point - and that makes it really hard to just stop reading. So great. Such a fun read.
Aimal 8 months ago
Not Even Bones is one of those books that’s so deliciously creative that while you’re reading it, you keep thinking, “How did this author come up with this?!” Because it is truly unlike anything I’ve ever read before; don’t let the comparisons fool you into thinking this is similar to anything out there, because it’s not. I’m 23 years old with a good 18 years of reading experience, and I have never encountered a book that is similar to this one. Firstly, the main character is a villain – you could argue that she’s an anti-hero but if I was really stretching my imagination, I’d say she’s an anti-villain. And that’s largely because of the trend of protagonists we usually see in YA; most leading characters have this holier-than-thou attitude regarding self-sacrifice, but Nita doesn’t. She’s gonna save herself, and she’s not going to feel bad about it. There’s nothing wrong with that, but considering the context of the story, she’s not really a good person. And no significant character that you encounter in this book is a good person either. You cannot believe how refreshing it is to read a book about bad people just being bad, and making little to no excuse for their badness. Secondly, it’s set in Peru featuring American characters (our protagonist is biracial with a white American mother and a Chilean father). And there just aren’t very many fantasy-thrillers out there featuring villains set in South America. Not Even Bones not only utilizes the setting as a significant feature of the novel rather than just tokenizing it, but it also discusses social themes while doing so. For example, there’s a moment when Nita encounters American tourists who are angry that the locals in Peru aren’t communicating in English. Nita remarks at their entitlement, broadly stating that English-speaking peoples have a way of wanting to assert their superiority over other countries. Schaeffer discusses these social themes by the way, incorporating them naturally into the plot. But she touches upon global hegemony of Anglo peoples, their forced supremacy, their brutal histories of colonization and theft from other lands, and their continued oppression of poorer countries. Plus, Schaeffer describes someone as having “mayonnaise-white” skin which – as a person of color, whose skin has been annoyingly described with various types of food items – was really satisfying. In the same realm, it's one of the only fantasy books that actually discusses the fantastical elements on a globalized scale. Instead of just focusing on the West and the plight of Americans, Schaeffer touches upon the situation of supernatural creatures all over the world, from Vietnam to rural Japan. In this way, the world-building is especially striking because it's truly world building rather than just region-specific. The world-building is not ultra-complicated, but it's expansive. And you can tell that Schaeffer has put a tremendous amount of thought into this universe; moreover, she makes her world-building accessible and easy to understand without any info-dumps or large chunks of text explaining the obvious. If you’re looking for something unique, dark, thrilling, creepy or fast-paced, this is a book that was made for you. It’s told with wit and the seemingly straightforward narrative has layers to it which Schaeffer uses to discuss social themes and the utter illusion of morality. Not Even Bones is wicked. It’s spell-binding, and it’s a book that’s far too good to fly under the radar.
Ireadergosum 8 months ago
4.5 Stars!! This was a whole new world full of dark characters and gruesome work. The characters did what they had to do, and didn't hold back. I loved all the different types of unnaturals in this story, they really illustrated the whole idea of moral ambiguity. Nita's struggle with her own moral dilemma was a little overdone for me at times, but that was really the only thing I didn't love about this story. Luckily, there is a certain zannie that I just fell in love with, that made up for that. I really enjoyed how the author tied in some religious history into the storyline. There was also a subtle acknowledgement of the problematic gender roles of our society, and how we as humans can be selective in who we bestow empathy upon. Overall, this is a dark young adult novel that is absolutely thrilling. The characters are going off their base instincts, and holding nothing back!
Anonymous 8 months ago
I am so excited to share my thoughts on this bloody, poignant, monster book! Read on to find out why I gave it 5 stars. So if you follow me on Goodreads you will see that I gave this book 4.5 stars, but honestly, it’s worth rounding it up to 5. The more I think about this one the more I love it. This Savage Song really is an excellent comparison, as Not Even Bones delves deep into issues of immoral and amorality, what it means to be a monster, and where monsters lurk in everyday life. “Stories here didn’t get neat endings tied up in a bow.” The main character of the story, Nita, was instantly relatable to me. She enjoys listening to show tunes while she dissects monsters. As someone with both a background in science and signing, I found my new best friend. But there is so much more to Nita! She has a very complicated relationship with both of her parents and the rest of the Unnatural world of monsters. I almost got a Mother Gothel vibe from her mother, with Nita being the sheltered protected Rapunzel. The pacing of the book is the one critique I had. There’s a section in the middle that gets repetitive, but overall it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. The real meat of the book is in its themes. Nita struggles to feel like a proper human in a lot of ways. She worries that she doesn’t grieve correctly, or empathize correctly. Issues like human trafficking, unjust incarceration, racism (or speciesism in this case), and the objectification of people take the forefront. All of these elements kept me thinking, and I was fascinated to see how the characters in the book related to these themes. “Most people weren’t working with people who reveled in the pain of others. Right?” More and more lately, I am finding books that include primary characters that aren’t always the good guy. Rin from The Poppy War is the first example that springs to mind. It forces the reader to consider that in some instances a net positive change for the world can require negative acts from an individual. Seeing the effect of those negative choices and actions is so important. I love seeing this addressed more frequently. If you can stomach some gore and blood in your dark fantasy, then keep an eye out for this one on September 4th! All quotes are taken from the eARC and are subject to change.
Rebecca_J_Allen 8 months ago
Gritty. Blood-drenched. Action-packed. This book met all my expectations! DON'T read this book while eating a nice meal, especially the bits about dissection. I learned more than I need to know about the disassembly of human anatomy, and it was fascinating. But what makes this book a stand-out is the way it raises gruesome "what if's" and holds up a mirror to the reader's face. What if your body parts were about to be sold off to the highest bidder. What would you do to escape? What lines would you cross? There are so many things I loved. Nita has depth. Fear of her mother, who brings home the corpses Nita dissects. Fear of the world around her. She learned at an early age to keep her mouth shut to avoid betraying her family's dark secrets. And fear, once she comes to understand the part she plays in the dangerous black market for supernatural body parts, of who and what she is. She thought her role was okay. Why not cut them up, they're already dead? But is it? Not Even Bones takes the reader into an enchanting fantasy world that forces them to think closely about the way we categorize people, and whether it's fair or inherently prejudiced. It keeps the turning pages until it finally reveals Nita's fate. Highly recommended! Find more reviews of teen and middle grade books at TheWingedPen.com!
yaratrv 8 months ago
10 million stars! Add this to your TBR right now! I don't have enough words to describe how awesome this book is!! The main protagonist (is she really a protagonist??) Nita is a seventeen 'unnatural' (think 'other' from the tv show Grimm), who can manipulate her body to do things it already does. For example, if she's hurt, she can fast-forward the healing process. Her parents run a black market business selling 'unnatural' body parts- Nita's job is to dissect and cut up the bodies and prepare them for shipment. Her thinking is, if she wasn't part of the murdering, she's not responsible for it. After she saves a live unnatural her mother brings home, Nita's kidnapped and ends up on the wrong side of the business: as an item for sale. She has a rude awakening as to what the entire black market business entails. This book has some very serious parts, but the author does such an amazing job of keeping the story almost light and hilarious. I LOL'ed several times! My favorite character was Kovit- I can't wait for you to meet him :) This is my new favorite read of the year and I'm pretty darn sure it will be yours too.