Monday, 10 April 2017

The Review of Butterflies: A Review of The Fall of Butterflies

An extra point for the bright,
pretty cover, perhaps?
The Fall of Butterflies is a novel by Andrea Portes. It follows Willa Parker, as she leaves her hometown of What Cheer, Iowa, where she is the most unpopular resident, despite being apparently pretty, allegedly clever and not obviously socially inept? She seems to be unpopular by choice, because she likes to sit in silence rather then talk about hairspray or football, as she assumes everyone else talks about. Her mother, who wrote a best-selling economics textbook, is sending her away to fancy boarding school. Once she gets there, she meets a girl named Remy Taft, who is the most dazzling, magical person ever. In case you couldn't tell, this book has not been one of my favourites.

One of the big reasons I disliked this book is because we are told everything, but not shown anything. We are informed that Willa is curious, but she doesn't really seem to ask any questions or explore her new surroundings at all. We are told that she is intelligent - "off the charts," compared to her classmates - but nowhere does she show us this at all. She gets off at a train station with a stranger, who is older and behaving semi-creepily towards her, to have pizza in an unfamiliar city. She wasn't interested in him, she just wanted pizza. She doesn't seem to know the name of "that giant clock" in London - I would expect someone who's intelligent and curious to at least know Big Ben! She talks about how much less privileged she is then her classmates, which gives her a different perspective on things then them, but her rich mother is paying her tuition.

Reading the description on the back of the book, it is easy to think that it is a book about a blossoming relationship between two young ladies. It's not, and Willa's actual love interest is the most bland, boring romance in the history of fiction. Remy herself is not a particularly unique or interesting take on the 'quirky girl with problems' trope, and I found Willa as the narrator unrelatable and unlikable. She also, while being allegedly super-smart, displays no hobbies, interests or a dream or ambition for the future.

The author (I'm not sure if it's her personal views or expressing the point of view of her character) spends more than one whole page complaining about Britain. Based on no real experience or research, just defaulting to the "monarchy is bad" viewpoint. There are pros and cons to it, the subject of which is quite often debated in the UK, but it's not as clear-cut as many Americans seem to think.

Since I did not like this book, I find I can't recommend it to anyone, personally. But if you find you enjoy it, that's great, because all fiction is open to subjective interpretation.

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