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Book Review: Not Even Bones By Rebecca Schaeffer
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Not Even Bones Book Cover

Not Even Bones
Hardcover | Kindle
By Rebecca Schaeffer
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Release date: September 4, 2018

There’s a risk inherent in reading the first published novel by an otherwise new author. There’s additional risk when that first published novel is announced as part of a planned trilogy before the author has even had the opportunity to toe the waters of publishing success. I admit I initially felt this way about reading Rebecca Schaeffer’s Not Even Bones. But the official synopsis won me over and made me overlook my trepidations and dive in.

I am so glad I did!

Imagine an alternate version of our modern Earth where the only real difference is that fantastical creatures are part of our lives. Not like pets but as variant races of humanoids attempting to live among us. However, they are very highly legislated against by an international organization known as INHUP — International Non-Human Police — which functions as an Interpol of sorts to keep track of and deal with indiscretions committed by such creatures against humans. On the flip side of the coin is a dark web-based black market that sells “unnaturals” both whole and in pieces to collectors who want to benefit from their special powers, such as immortality, faster healing, enhanced senses, etc.

Nita is a teenage girl who travels the world with her mother living under the radar as an unnatural that can very readily pass as a normal human being. While her mother hunts, kills, and collects other unnaturals, Nita plays out her love of anatomy by cutting up these creatures so her mom and dad can sell them on the dark web.

One night, however, Nita’s mom brings home a live unnatural that she expects Nita to chop up piece by piece on demand doing her best to keep him alive and, thus, fresher for buyers. This goes against every tenuous moral fiber that Nita has, so she refuses and helps him escape in the night. Unfortunately for her, she winds up being sold in his place and now she must fight for survival while piecing together who betrayed her.

Yes, it’s an interesting idea and one that could easily skew badly or sound contrived and juvenile. But it doesn’t. Not even remotely. Schaeffer has a firm grasp on what makes her anti-heroine tick and truly brings her to life. But she’s also willing to stretch the “humanity” of this non-human and push the boundaries of what Nita is willing to do to survive. So far, she is a very intriguing character and the future for her is very bright.

Occasionally, I winced at some of the language and descriptions of the dissections and wondered if it was appropriate for grade 9 and above as advertised. But then I remembered I was reading Stephen King and Clive Barker in seventh grade. So, yeah, this is fine. I’m just old.

I really had a lot of fun reading Not Even Bones and cannot wait until the second installment in the series is released. I’m going to be recommending it to a lot of my friends.

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