Nita isn’t a murderer. She just dissects the bodies of supernatural beings after they’ve been “acquired” by her mother.
But when her mom brings home a live specimen of a scared teenage boy, Nita decides she wants out. Yet saving her mother’s victim leads Nita to being sold in his place—because Nita herself isn’t exactly “human.” She has the ability to alter her biology, a talent that is priceless on the black market.
On the other side of the bars, Nita must ask herself if she’s willing to become the worst kind of monster to escape.
This book is FANTASTIC! It’s fresh, it’s exciting, it’s got all the nitty gritty plus a morally questionable protagonist.
I loved reading it just for how different it is compared to traditional YA. It was darkly fascinating and was kind of like a train wreck you can’t help but watch. (Except that this book is the furthest thing from a train wreck.)
It’s got a lot of dark characters, and basically nobody in this story is a completely good person. They’ve all led to one person or another’s death, and it’s really horrifying, when you actually think about it. But some murderers (or murderer adjacent people) are better than others, and that’s who we end up rooting for throughout the novel.
I loved Nita’s character. Even though she’s not a great person (*cough*SHE DISSECTS MONSTERS FOR THE BLACK MARKET*cough*), I loved reading a protagonist who has a passion for science and is willing to question how far she’ll go. And her narration and how it incorporated healing the body and the specifics of clotting blood or sharpening vision or building muscles etc. was really cool and not at all like the much more awkward narration in Heart of Thorns where the narrator’s science talk was…less believable.
The sort of paranormal abilities monsters (flesh eating, organ eating, pain eating, self-healing, glowing, vampires, chupacabras, unicorns, and everything under the sun) have were cool to read about, but not overwhelming.
I mean, the world is built really well in my opinion, because you’re introduced to all sorts of monsters and knowledge about how the world works in the book, but it’s all integrated in a way that never feels like an infodump or just being thrust into a bunch of words that you don’t really know what they mean.
The monsters were just so interesting and I love how Schaeffer incorporated monsters from multiple cultures and also thought about how the world would react to monsters’ existence, and what she ended up doing made a lot of sense.
There were only a few things that I wasn’t so keen on, but I also feel like they’ll be addressed more in the sequel, because this is just book 1. Nita’s story is far from over, and there are still quite a few loose ends around (PLUS THAT CLIFFHANGER–OMG).
I guess I just wish Nita’s morals were explored a little more, but she also has character development to go through in the next book! Even though she did learn about drawing the line and deciding where her morals lie, I did feel like she could have just learned more and understood more.
And I just thought that the writing could have been more emotive and more horrifying for the reader–more shocking in a way. I mean, when you look at what’s happening–Nita being taken and sold on the black market, potentially for people to chop off her body parts and eat her–it’s a really really really scary situation.
I would be freaking my mind out if I was ever in a position like that, and so I thought the novel didn’t portray the horror of the situation quite accurately? It just felt like it was all well and good because that’s just how the world works.
But I also understand how this is basically all Nita has ever known, and writing the book in third person limited for Nita both made us fit into her POV of this not being that horrifying, and also just distanced us a little, because that’s what third person does.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this and found it to be a fresh, gruesome tale that YA readers will love. I definitely recommend to fans of This Savage Song, although this novel remains very distinct in its own way. But also, monsterssss.
Thanks so much to HMH Teen for providing me with an digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!