This is a breakout bloody good book (pun totally intended), and if you don’t like blood, the idea of autopsies, or a lot of gore, I would stay far far away. But if you’re anything like me, and you don’t keel over at the thought of body parts being cut off (I know someone who does), and you’re looking for the most original dark fantasy this Fall (some would definitely call it horror), look no further.
In ‘Not Even Bones’, Rebecca Schaeffer has given life, as gory, twisted, and fantastical as it may be, to a sort of anti-hero we can’t help but rally behind, Anita, who not only is masterful when it comes to dissecting dead bodies, but who possesses magical capabilities (she’s able to turn her pain receptors on and off, and do amazing things like heal parts of her own body).
Nita and her mother have traveled the world working within the black market of selling body parts of other ‘unnaturals’; Nita’s mother does the killing and Nita does the dissecting, something she enjoys, but she uses the moral reasoning whereby ‘it’s all okay because she’s not actually doing the killing, her mom is’. She even has dreams of one day doing medical research and putting her skills to good use.
But then the day comes when Nita is betrayed and she ends up on the wrong side of the ‘Death Market’, and possibly will become body parts herself, and she really has to question all those good morals and boundaries she has set up for herself. She ends up putting trust in someone she’d never have imagined she’d have to, and doing things she’d sworn to herself she never would. And there’s a LOT of blood and guts along the way.
I don’t like making comparisons, and make a point of not doing so myself, but the one that has been made about ‘Not Even Bones’, and is right on its cover, is that it’s a mashup of ‘Dexter’ and ‘This Savage Song’ by V.E. Schwab. I could barely tear myself away from the TV show ‘Dexter’, I loved it to death, but this isn’t why I read this book (just look at the scalpel on the cover), and making comparisons like the one made here doesn’t give author Rebecca Schaeffer the true credit she should even give herself (Dexter is referenced in the book, so I know she loved the show too). I relished all the adventure and the gore, but I also found the writing and story captivating, and not worth comparing to anything else, especially once I got lost inside this new world and involved with the characters.
Above all, the questioning of Nita’s own existence, her morals, and her judgment in the situations that come up, was so fascinating to read, this book has levels beyond the ears and toes in jars of formaldehyde. It was so thought-provoking amidst all the horrifying bloodiness and excellent world-building, and that was so unexpected.
I’m definitely looking forward to seeing this series progress; the fate of Nita looked precarious at the end of the book, and I can’t wait for more blood and more magical ‘monsters’ to be cut up into tiny little pieces to make her strange future right again. One can only hope, and even if she doesn’t really ‘deserve’ it.