Butter's a fat kid. That's something no one would argue with and something he himself identifies with. But he's so alone, and he's sad about being alone. He hates knowing what it is that keeps him alone is that number. Over the last few months, he's made good friends with Anna online -- Anna goes to his school, fits in with the in crowd, and has absolutely no idea the boy she talks to online (who goes by the name JP) is really Butter.
Then one day, Butter decides he's going to stand up for himself. He's going to eat himself to death. Online. So everyone can watch. When word gets around about this, Butter finds himself suddenly in with the popular group. But only because they aren't sure he'll actually do it. And hell, Butter doesn't know if he'll do it either.
Until he's utterly hurt by Anna. That's when he decides what his plan of action will be.
Butter had a fantastic voice, and this was one of the rare instances where I felt like the tackling of a weight issue in a YA book was handled well. Butter knew who he was and he wasn't necessarily ashamed of it. (view spoiler)[ Which isn't to say he LIKES being fat, but he's also not fixated on a quick solution nor on changing himself to make a girl like him. In fact, that was probably one of the strengths of the story -- Butter wants Anna to accept him as who he is. He doesn't go about this the right way, of course, but I so appreciated where his heart was. (hide spoiler)]
I felt Butter's emotional highs and lows throughout.
But he is so far from perfect. In fact, no one in this book is cut and dry. They're all shades of good and bad. Butter has his moments of being a real great, sympathetic character, but then he has his moments of being a real jerk. His new-found friends, who are stereotypical "cool kids," aren't necessarily horrible people. They definitely mistreat him, but at the same time, they're sort of necessary for Butter's development in a way he doesn't always understand. (view spoiler)[ That they egg him on, tormenting him about whether or not he has the balls to go through with his suicide plan, is horrible. But at the same time, they're not entirely bad or evil, in that they do make Butter feel like he has a purpose on more than one occasion, and not just because he's a toy to them. (hide spoiler)]
The adults in this book are imperfect, too.
What didn't quite work for me was that at times, it felt a little too message-driven. Online bullying is bad, and it's bad to hate yourself and consider suicide your only way out or your only way of getting attention or proving yourself to other people. It's bad to misrepresent yourself and it's bad to hurt other people. Had some of this been cut back a little bit, I think the message would have come out stronger via the story itself.
Lange's writing is great, and she nails the male voice well. The premise and execution work with the characters. This'll appeal to both girl and guy readers who like realistic stories. It is relevant.
Full review here: http://www.stackedbooks.org/2012/09/b...