Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Fall of Butterflies

Rate this book
Willa Parker, 646th and least-popular resident of What Cheer, Iowa, is headed east to start a new life. Did she choose this life? No, because that would be too easy—and nothing in Willa’s life is easy. It’s her famous genius mother’s idea to send her to ultra-expensive, ultra-exclusive Pembroke Prep, and Willa has no intention of fitting in. But when she meets peculiar, glittering Remy Taft, the richest, most mysterious girl on campus, she starts to see a foothold in this foreign world—a place where she could maybe, possibly, sort of fit in. When Willa looks at Remy, she sees a girl who has everything. But for Remy, having everything comes at a price. And as she spirals out of control, Willa can feel Remy spinning right out of her grasp.

386 pages, Hardcover

First published May 10, 2016

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Andrea Portes

13 books465 followers
Andrea Portes is a bestselling American novelist.

Her novels include HICK, BURY THIS, ANATOMY OF A MISFIT, and THE FALL OF BUTTERFLIES. Portes is also the author of the upcoming LIBERTY book series and the upcoming HENRY & EVA book series. She also published the SUPER RAD graphic novel series for Dark Matter Comics.

Portes was raised in rural Nebraska, outside of Lincoln. She attended Bryn Mawr College on full scholarship and later received her MFA from University of California, San Diego. After graduation, Portes moved to the neighborhood of Echo Park in Los Angeles.

In 2007, Portes published her debut novel HICK that was an instant bestseller. After the book's huge success, the movie adaptation of HICK went into production in 2011. The film, starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Alec Baldwin, Eddie Redmayne, Juliette Lewis, and Blake Lively premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011.

Portes's second novel, BURY THIS, was published in January 2014 by Counterpoint Press's imprint Soft Skull Press to critical acclaim.

In 2012, she wrote SUPER RAD, a sci-fi series for Dark Matter Press.

Portes' third novel, ANATOMY OF A MISFIT, was published in September 2014 by HarperCollins. In July 2014, the book was optioned in a pre-emptive deal by Paramount Pictures, with Allison Shearmur (THE HUNGER GAMES, CINDERELLA) producing.

In Winter 2015, Portes spy thriller series LIBERTY was bought in a three-book deal by HarperCollins. Twentieth Century Fox-Fox 2000 acquired the rights to LIBERTY and will be producing the series with Wyck Godfrey (TWILIGHT, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS).

Her fourth book, THE FALL OF BUTTERFLIES will be out in May 2016 published by HarperCollins.

Portes also chose HarperCollins to publish HENRY & EVA AND THE CASTLE ON THE CLIFF, the first in a middle reader series of HENRY & EVA books. The second release in the series will be HENRY & EVA AND THE FAMOUS PEOPLE GHOSTS.

Portes is currently working on THEY WERE LIKE WOLVES, a work of literary fiction.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
188 (15%)
4 stars
374 (29%)
3 stars
451 (36%)
2 stars
161 (12%)
1 star
75 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 220 reviews
Profile Image for Karen.
492 reviews95 followers
March 31, 2021

This was such a fun book about a girl going to an ivy league high school across the country from her actual home. Willa’s mother is famous for her brain and her father is just a regular guy. Of course she grew up with her dad and hasn’t seen her mother in years, but that doesn’t stop her mother from trying to dictate her academically. Willa agrees to attend Pembroke Prep, there she meets a girl who will change her life. Remy is the sort of girl everyone wants to be friends with. Remy chooses to befriend Willa and lets Willa into her world. Remy might be the only thing that keeps Willa from killing herself, but Remy has carved her own path to destruction.

Right away I have to tell you that the writing style of this book is not normal. It took me some getting used to. It made me thing of the way some bloggers write. I enjoyed the style that speaks directly to the reader and includes backround info and snark. The writing allows us right into Willa’s head in a very first person way. I think this is something you will love or hate right away, there is no getting around it. I liked being in Willa’s head, so I pretty much enjoyed this story.

That’s not to say I didn’t have issues. For example: right off the bat Willa is describing her classmates to us before she leaves for this elite prep school. She calls them horrible names like OCD, Peanut Allergy Boy, and Headhear girl. These people that she claims to miss aren’t even important enough to have real names. There is fun play with names for everyone in this book, but I really disliked this intro. It gave me opinions about Willa that weren’t necessarily true. Also, Willa admits to having suicidal plans, but we never really find out why.

Willa and Remy have a magnetic attraction to each other. They are not lovers, but I almost though for a minute that they were going to be. Willa goes out of her way for Remy, and Remy opens up to Willa as much as she possibly can. Remy invited Willa into her world, but it is not all that pretty when you get a good look at it. Remy is very very much alone and recklessly not in check with anyone. This lifestyle means that no one will ever call her on her bullshit or tell her to stop. No one, not even Willa.

There is a bit of a love interest, but… I thought right away, this is going to end badly. I admit that I disliked the ending. I can’t really say where people ended up, but it makes me kinda sad to think about some aspects of this story. I think this book will appeal to a certain reader who like the way Willa sees the world.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,728 reviews1,279 followers
March 21, 2016
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“It’s a bathtub. A haunted bathtub.”

This was a YA contemporary story, about a girl at boarding school and illegal drugs.

Willa was an okay character, although she was maybe a bit of a follower. The way she kept going on about her haunted bathtub was quite annoying though.

The storyline in this was about Willa going to a new school, freaking out over her haunted bathroom (which she wouldn’t shut up about), and then finding a new friend called Remy, and starting to take illegal drugs.

“She places one pink pill precisely on each of our tongues. Gulp.”

The pace in this was pretty slow though, and other than the haunted bathroom and the ecstasy, not a lot happened, and I lost interest. By the time I got to the end I was just pleased that it was over.

6 out of 10
Profile Image for Meliss.
807 reviews34 followers
May 22, 2016
Why is it always harder to write reviews about books you truly love?

Nevertheless, I have to try. Because, you guys, The Fall of Butterflies is magnificent. And I encourage everyone in the world to run--yes, run--to the nearest bookstore--and yes, brick and mortar bookstore--and purchase a copy of this masterpiece. It will make you cry, it will make you laugh over and over again, it will make you feel understood. It will make you feel. And isn't that why we all read? Why we all live?

Willa is the character that every editor and every reader dreams of. Her voice is strong and unique and unforgettable. She has the ability to laugh at and hide her pain with humor, but she still feels so much. Her glibness is both her protection and her savior; and she has this wonderful ability to critique her surroundings and society, and understand just how different people live in a way I think so many don't. I understand her and her struggles on a very personal level, and saw the same fears I experienced when I was in high school--and sometimes still feel. I was so worried she was going to fall down the rabbit hole of destruction with Remy, and I'm so unbelievably happy that she pulled herself back up.

I could spend eighteen years piecing apart the psychology of Remy, but I'm not going to. Because this story isn't about Remy; it's about Willa. But I will say a few things. Like how I hate her, but also want to be her, and then hate her, but also idolize her, and then hate her some more. Which is how I'm supposed to feel. She's a complicated person, who both wants and doesn't want to be complicated. She wants to be seen and be the center of attention and be idolized, but she doesn't want to at the same time. She's a scared, lonely, wealthy girl that has the world at her fingertips, but she can't see beyond the shit. It was a painful car crash to watch. But written so damn well.

I had a hard time liking the relationship between Remy and Willa, because you shouldn't. At it's core, this is a story about a toxic friendship. Remy unintentionally saved Willa from herself and her loneliness, which is wonderful, but that's about the only good thing that came from it. Okay, that's not totally true. Remy helped and allowed Willa to be herself (most of the time) and made Willa keep trying. But their relationship was rooted in unhealthy experiences, because Remy is an unhealthy girl. The relationship might feel important and change your life, but in the end, you can't help someone who doesn't want help or save someone who doesn't want to be saved. They drag you down, and after Willa learned how to be happy and accept herself on her own, she had to make the difficult decision of being by herself again.

Please give Andrea Portes all of the awards for every category ever. Because she deserves them. The writing of this story is impeccable. Willa has the ability to examine society and crack pop culture jokes and make you feel because Andrea Portes wrote her. And I will be forever grateful.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,846 reviews
April 28, 2016

The Fall of Butterflies is a standalone contemporary Young Adult book. This is my first book by this author.

The narrator is 16 year old Willa from Iowa. She is leaving home to go to Pembroke Boarding School on the East Coast.

The writing style is very odd. The narrator talks to the reader.

I didn't really connect with a lot of the characters in this book. Many of the kids that go to this school are rich and snobby. They basically don't even have to attend classes if they don't feel like it. I was not expecting the book to be like it was. The way the narrator talks to the reader probably appeals to some people. But I found it annoying. Also, the way the narrator keeps mentioning killing herself was so unappealing.

Willa meets a best friend, Remy. This girl is very rich and is big trouble. She introduces Willa to a lot of bad things, including drugs.

This story really wasn't for me. I really did not connect with the writing style. I was expecting the book to be about a girl going away to school. I guess this is supposed to be realistic fiction if it is realistic to go to boarding school and do drugs with rich kids.

I really enjoyed Ms. Ingall, one of Willa's teachers. It was really nice to see a teacher take such interest in a student. I also enjoyed a bunch of the places that Willa visited. Overall this book is a YA contemporary realistic fiction that might appeal to people who like to read about kids at boarding schools and their struggles.

Thanks to edelweiss and HarperTeen for allowing me to read this book.
Profile Image for Vem Night.
119 reviews137 followers
June 12, 2016
I like the story but...
A light read and definitely good one but not good enough for me to give five stars. Giving it three because it doesn't suit me well. Some parts I felt it was dragging and to be honest I was hoping for a better ending. There wasn't much a climax and a resolution, not to mention my ship sailed. I got this feeling that there wasn't any closure at all.

What I like about the story is its loyalty to the story line and it's about and finding yourelf. The humor added is absolutely grea. And most specially, Willa's POV. She's funny effortlessly.

Here's one that made me go Whoa! at Willa. Episodes like these are those I really enjoyed:
This endless weight of being a human-type person on this spinning orb next to the sun in an infinite universe in a sea of the evermore infinite multiverse!

...idiot Neanderthals with the IQ of maybe a concrete block...

And who can pull that off but Willa? I think I wanna use this someday, what do you think?

Well, she's got it right in this part:
...this is really getting confusing. I sort of wish we could have name tags. Girlfriend or Not Girlfriend. Somebody hand me the right one.

And lastly, I couldn't stress this enough:
Maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t so bad to be myself

I'm proud of you Willa!

Shoutout to ORANGE SHERBET. "I march to the beat of my own drum"
Profile Image for Ann  Mat.
877 reviews38 followers
June 29, 2016

Warning: This book contains omigawd-she-didn’t spectacle, and the other half is pretty familiar not to mention inconsistent.
Profile Image for Cesar.
355 reviews235 followers
May 16, 2016
3.5 stars

There are lots of problems people have in the world. Many of them are different from certain groups or individuals. But the problem here in this book is: Rich People Problems.

The Fall of Butterflies isn't necessarily about rich people problems. It's still there, but it also focuses on Willa and her journey from being a girl from Iowa to attending an elite school and making friends with Remy.

To me, this was a good book. It wasn't a book that took me by surprise. The best way I can describe this book is simply entertaining. Willa herself was a unique character who is someone who is just trying to find her place in the world.

Aside from her journey, she also gets to go on these trips with her rich friends who seem to be unhappy with their affluent life. Willa wants to be one of the best and become "somebody." But seeing her rich friends be unhappy with their lives is making her do a double take on what it means to have everything and be happy with it.

I'd like to think the overall message of the book is that even if you have everything, even if you are one of the richest people in the world, it cannot make you happy. Sure money can buy happiness, but it cannot ensure lifetime happiness.

In the case for Willa, she has to come to terms that life isn't something that can give free handouts to people who are in need. She didn't have everything when she was living in Iowa with her dad and she wanted something. But sometimes you just gotta role with the punches and go through life knowing that it won't be easy for you. And even if she does find that something, who knows if it'll make her feel happy or miserable.

To be honest, it did sort of remind me of We Were Liars be E. Lockhart with the whole rich people problems. Except The Fall of Butterflies is a much better book mainly because Willa wasn't a whiny rich girl. At least in my opinion.

In short, The Fall of Butterflies was an entertaining book with a good message about happiness and what it means to be happy with your life. While the plot wasn't exactly well grounded and it did have it's moments, it was a good book overall.

Thanks for reading my review!

Profile Image for Lilian.
94 reviews14 followers
October 13, 2016
I'm finding it so hard to rate this book. I found so many elements of myself within the main character that I'm literally sitting here tossing between giving this book either a 3 or 4. I enjoyed the POV, the characters, the refreshing plot, the way the author talked about friendship. I just, this book was beautiful in so many ways yet did also have some excruciating flaws. (expect a full review soon - I need to reflect on everything that just happened, holy crap).
Profile Image for Megan.
717 reviews25 followers
March 30, 2018
With the average Goodreads rating being so low, I thought this book was gonna be an easy book to fly through, rate 2 stars, and throw to the side. Uhh, I don't know why, but I kind of enjoyed this book. It felt fresh and the narrator's voice was one that I haven't yet encountered, which is definitely a feat considering how many voices I have read. I could definitely relate to her thoughts at this time in my life, and I'm 19 years old. That might be bad..

Nevertheless, Mile is turning my head into jelly and goop because all I can do is think that I shouldn't get a crush on him but I'm getting a crush on him but I shouldn't get a crush on him but maybe he's getting a crush on me but maybe he isn't but maybe he is...

The Fall of Butterflies is very deceiving. The cover of the book might make the reader think that it's going to be a fluffy contemporary where a girl falls in love and there's some dramatic moments wher they fight and stuff but for the most part, it's a fluff fest. Uhh, The Fall of Butterflies is definitely not a fluff fest; it's a strange little book with some pretty heavy topics in it. To cover a few: drugs, teacher student relations, parents and their affect on their children, etc.

The book starts out kind of fluffy. Willa, our narrator, introduces herself as one of the most unpopular girls at her school and how she sits at a lunch table with the special ed. kids. She then tells us that her renowned economist mother got her into Pembroke Prep. She has a really young, quirky voice, riddled with bad jokes, hashtags, and text talk. It isn't overwhelming though, at least it wasn't for me. Her voice felt real for her age group, and the author retained this throughout the entire novel, so it was effective.

Willa soon meets Remy, and that's when shit starts to turn darker. I know, I know, there are so many books out there that have a girl meet another girl and them have some sexual tension but them not actually be lesbians, and then one of the girls discovers the other one has a dark side. I KNOW. I don't know, this book just feels a tiny bit more fresh. There were some really weird scenes that literally made me make a cringe face.

Of course there are things that could be cleaned up in this book. There are a couple of things that I'm still a little confused about or questioning, but I can't say them without spoiling some major aspects of the book. However, my expectations were pretty low but I'm coming out feeling that this book was enjoyable, and it was shocking. It feels like a mixture of Go Ask Alice and some fluffy contemporary like Anna and the French Kiss or something, but it works.
Profile Image for Alicia.
18 reviews14 followers
December 13, 2020
This book is about a girl named Willa, she lives with her father in What Cheer, Iowa, since she was a little girl, because her mother, despite being an admirable intellectualist woman, that is known for her work in the economy, left Willa and her father for another man, and together they went to Europe to live there, without caring about her daughter. One day, Willa´s mother decided to send Willa to study at Pembroke Prep, an exclusive school, where a lot of rich and famous people sons and daughters study. Willa has plans to commit suicide but after she met the characteristic Remy Taft, Willa starts to get involved in the rich people world, where she learns that no everything is peach color in rich people's lives. While Willa starts to gain reasons to live in the fullest way, Remy and another boy, called Milo, just continue in that destructive way of living, which involves drug abuse.

This book was okay, that´s the word that describes what I felt while I read it. There wasn´t a character that I loved or feel attached to, I could say that Willa was the most relatable one, but I didn't love her either. The story was fine, I liked it, especially the parts when the writer show us how these people, rich people, have their own problems too and how these affect them, especially to their daughters and sons. I liked the contrast between Willa and Remy, how their lives were so different, and see how life is for each of them.

The writing style was something that can take some time to get used to because this book is narrated in the first person through Willa´s eyes. At first, I didn´t like this, but then I started liking the way Willa described everything in her own way, which was really hilarious at some parts.

This book didn´t make me feel big feelings, it just was okay, like I said, I didn´t like some things, like the fact that we never get to know the background of Willa´s life before Pembroke, so we don´t get to know why she wanted to commit suicide, or at least, we do not know the whole story or all the reasons. Another thing is that the romance was really disappointing, I didn't believe it and I didn´t feel the chemistry between the couple, that just didn´t happen. We also did not get to know all of Remy's story, just a little part, we do not know exactly why she is like that.

I would not say that this book was bad because it was not, just it was meh, just okay, al least for me. If you want to give it a try do it, maybe you are gonna enjoy it because If there is something that I can say is that this book is really easy to read, and you advance a lot with it, the pages go flying and is an enjoyable reading.
Profile Image for Molly.
456 reviews128 followers
December 29, 2017
Huge thank you to HarperCollins for sending me an ARC for review!

I was NOT expecting to love this book as much as I did. I started reading it because I was in the mood for something contemporary and I remembered really enjoying Portes' previous YA title. I got SUCKED into this book and read almost 200 pages in one sitting. I was expecting a typical small town girl goes to expensive prep school and gets sucked into a new, exciting world, story butttttt this took an unexpected dark turn. And I loved it. I loved the characters and the way that Willa deals with the new life around her. She's curious (too curious at times) and willing to explore new things. But she's also very secure in who she is (despite her own feelings that she isn't) and knows when to put on the brakes.

Willa's mother is a world famous economist who basically left her family to run off to France and peaced out of Willa's life. Willa lives in a small town in Iowa and she's not popular. She's very flippant about the small group of people she spends time with but clearly doesn't care about them at all. She's set to kill herself just because she's so sick of feeling her mother's expectations on her shoulders and when she moves to New England to attend an elite boarding school that her mother got her into.

The only real problem I had with this book was that Willa talks about wanting to kill herself, but I never really felt like she had an actual reason why. She didn't seem depressed, she didn't seem suicidal, she just seemed done with life. Over it. And after she starts to sink into her new life that vein of story just kinda slowly falls away... it seemed a little odd to me.

Other than that thought I loved the way that Willa comes to terms with her mother, with her father, with the life she left, and the new life she's leading. I loved watching those around her react to her and help her grow. I loved seeing her try so hard to save her new friend and coming to terms with the fact that sometimes you just can't help people who don't want it.

I really love Portes' writing style too. It's very unique and quirky and fun to read. I liked that this story was being told to you (the reader) and that Willa is aware of you (the reader). It makes for a very quick read.
Profile Image for Tonya Henderson.
713 reviews132 followers
July 24, 2016
See this review and more on my blog, Lilybloombooks

The Fall of Butterflies was a new-to-me book that I had not seen much of before requesting it for review on audio. I’ve been in a contemporary mood, and this was the perfect book to satisfy my new habit of mood reading.

I loved the writing. It’s told in the second person, with Willa narrating to you as the reader. It was a fun and unique was to be pulled into the story, especially given the state of mind that Willa was in at the beginning of the story. It’s like she is preparing us… for things to come.

Willa has an unapologetic voice that I love reading. She comes off… rude, crass, and harsh at times, and there were even comments that would (and do) upset others, but it’s the way she handles herself that makes me attracted to her personality. She feels alone, isolated, and watching her open up and find herself after befriending Remy was a magical experience, even though their relationship was toxic to the core. She grows a lot throughout the book and finds herself along the way. The themes throughout the novel are dark but well handled. It’s not overdone but not too subtle, either.

The Narration
I thought Cassandra Campbell did a great job narrating Willa. Willa is far from a reliable narrator, and she was able to portray that in her voice. I also really liked how she handled Remy’s voice, or all the characters, really. She doesn’t have that too mature voice, either, which is great considering the age of the characters. I will be on the look out for more books narrated by her in the future!

All in all – I really liked The Fall of Butterflies. It’s a quick read (listen), with a dark undertone but such a great story of a girl finding her way. The ending is left pretty open, so that leaves us to fill in the rest of their story. Or maybe, a revisit? I highly recommend it.

*I received this book for free from The Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Claire (Book Blog Bird).
1,053 reviews38 followers
April 30, 2018
3.5 stars

This was a pretty good book about a small-town gal whose absentee mother wangles her into a prestigious boarding school where she plans to commit suicide.

So this isn't exactly the cheeriest start to a book and I never really got to grips with why Willa wanted to off herself. Still, the author manages to lift the mood considerably by not really talking about Willa's intended suicide for the rest of the book and instead regaling us with the escapades and pranks that Willa and her new boarding school friends get up to.

The plot is pretty good, although I could kind of see where it was going in terms of Remy's problems.

I found it hard to actually identify with any of the characters, which was a bit of a hurdle for me as a reader. All the rich kids (like 90% of the characters) seem ultra-privileged, super-rich and don't have to go to classes if they don't want to. This was so utterly unlike my own high school experience that it just felt off-kilter. They got very tedious and I wanted Willa to tell them all (Remy especially) to bog off and when she didn't I wanted Willa to bog off for being just a doormat.

While I really like Andrea Portes' style of writing (Anatomy of a Misfit remains one of the most emotionally-affecting books I've ever read) this one didn't hit the mark as well as I'd hoped
Profile Image for Christine.
205 reviews25 followers
June 30, 2017
WAY better than anatomy of a misfit.
I guess I could relate to Willa, and that's what made this book so interesting to me. Nothing special here. I guess it's one of those books where if u can relate you'll enjoy it. If I can't then u won't.
Profile Image for Sara (A Gingerly Review).
2,686 reviews155 followers
May 25, 2016
Yet another book that started out with such potential but failed to deliver.

Full review can be found here: https://agingerlyreview.wordpress.com...

This is yet another debut novel that was a huge disappointment. I picked it up because I wanted to try to read outside of my normal genre and it bothers me that these books are not living up to my low expectations.

This is the story of Willa and Remy, two girls who become amazing friends while at an ivy league high school. Willa has a mother that is famous for her brain, while her father is just a regular guy. Willa grew up with her father so he had a rather normal upbringing, except for when it came to what Willa did academically. That is when her mother kicked into gear and did her best to dictate what happen. Remy is the type of girl with an infectious personality, everyone just wants to be friends with her. Remy does Willa a favor when she befriends her and allows her into her crazy world. Each girl has their own demons to fight and this friendship really good for either of them?
The first thing of note with this story is the writing style. It certainly will not be for everyone and if you stick with it, it will take some getting used to. The reader will either love it or hate it, no middle ground. Most of the writing can come across as if the author is talking to the reader like they are a three year old. It is almost demeaning at times.

Almost right away, I started to immensely disliked Willa. She chooses to describe her classmates before even meeting them. How is that possible? However, when she does, she is HORRIBLE. She is rude, inconsiderate, insensitive, and hateful. She gives them terrible names like “OCD”, “Peanut Allergy Boy”, and “Headgear Girl”. I could not figure out if the author wanted the reader to immediately hate this character or what her end game was. Actually, Willa’s character is a void of anything solid and reasonable. She admits to being suicidal and having suicide plans, but the reader never finds out why she thinks this way. This is, quite possible, one of the worst written MCs ever.
The intense and immediate attraction between Willa and Remy may lead the reader to believe they are lovers, but they are not. No idea why the author chose to include this as part of the story because it truly does not hold a place in the story. It serves nothing to the overall plot. Speaking of plot, I’m not sure there is one. If there is, I wasn’t able to find it.

It is not hard to guess that I did not enjoy this book. I couldn’t find anything redeeming about it. Willa’s character is a horrible human being, and Remy is just bad news. These two are like a puddle of gas and an open flame. I would not recommend this to anyone. There are much better books out there and I would suggest you pass over this to get to them. That’s why I gave this story 1.5 stars. The only thing that brought it up from just 1 star was I liked some of the places Willia visited and talked about. That was simply it.
Profile Image for The Bibliophagist.
191 reviews59 followers
June 14, 2016
After I read Portes’s first novel, I wasn’t impressed. Honestly, The Fall of Butterflies wasn’t that much better, but it was still an improvement.

A four sentence summary:
Willa leaves What Cheer, Iowa to attend the prestigious Pembroke Prep. Willa befriends the mysterious, quirky, school rebel Remy Taft. Willa and Remy get into trouble and do lots of drugs together. The end.

Characters: I disliked every character in this book. I actually don’t even think we were supposed to feel sympathetic towards them, but still. They were all annoying, spoiled, and rich. Willa did not sound like a teenager in today’s world. She sounded like an adult trying to sound like a teenager. She went on tangents about the universe and ghosts and her big mouth. Pages and pages of nonsense that only ended giving me a headache. Remy and Willa had a case of instalove, even though they weren’t dating. All of a sudden, they are best friends forever. This book follows the manic pixie dream girl trope. Willa basically worships Remy from the beginning, and towards the end of the story realizes Remy isn’t all that she’s cracked up to be, life lessons and yada, yada, yada.

Romance: This book didn’t really have much romance, but there was a main love interest for Willa, and his name was Milo. Milo was problematic from the start (hello, he wore camouflaged Vans). And I couldn’t wait for their relationship to be over.

Writing: They writing style was pretty cringe worthy. Again, going back to authors trying to sound like teenagers. The dialogue was awkward and definitely not realistic.

Plot: I wasn’t sure the direction this novel was taking. In a lot of ways it reminded me of “Less Than Zero” by Bret Easton Ellis (a book I recommend to absolutely no one). It was just a bunch of privileged, rich kids getting high and doing drugs. I just don’t see the appeal in stories like this.

And don’t get me started on the ridiculous names. Willa! Remy! Milo! Zeb! Not every character in the story needs an eccentric name!

I also didn’t like how Willa kept talking to the reader for the first half of the book, and then towards the middle of the story she just stops that.

This book kept me entertained, but I think it could have been executed better. With more developed characters/relationships and a stronger writing style, the story could have really shined. At the very least, I think this book will be relatable to a vast number of kids because of Remy and Willa’s friendship.


Profile Image for Joshua Lee.
1 review
October 28, 2016
In the book The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes, the author’s writing style is fun and informal. The book is written in first person, while occasionally breaking the fourth wall. The narrator is the main character, named Willa Parker, and because Willa is a teenager, the book is written the way a teenager might think or speak. Portes writes in a way that may be somewhat confusing to follow at times, but it adds to the realness of the mind of a teenager. She constantly adds witty, sarcastic remarks and goes off on anecdotes about herself or on whatever subject she is speaking about. The casual word choice makes me want to read more because it makes me feel like I am not just reading text off paper, but my reading my own train of thought. With the unique perspective and the interesting word choice, the writing style is definitely the highlight of The Fall of Butterflies.
This story is unique in some ways. The writing style is fairly unique because the story is told by the main character as they talk to the reader. Other than that though, it is a bit of a copycat storyline. Quirky girl moves, leaving her friends and having to make new friends to survive school. A very cliché plot. There are also a few cliché characters in the story. Remy is a girl that everyone wants to be friends with at her school, who eventually befriends Willa. She is a typical rich kid who doesn’t get enough care and interest from her family, and will do anything to get some attention. Another example of typical characters are Willa’s friends in the beginning of the story. They are the stereotypical misfits and nerds of her old school. For instance, the characters were actually called, “Peanut Allergy Boy, Headgear Girl, [and] OCD…” (Portes, 3). You could find these characters in any other fictional high school story. Although this story has some unique and not typically writing styles, the characters and plot are very
Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews370 followers
May 1, 2016
About 3.5 stars (just because I had to put this book down and start over at a later date).

Full disclosure - I'm definitely not the target demographic for this book. However, I do have teenage nieces who may or may not be interested in this book.....

When I first started reading The Fall of Butterflies, I was a little bored. Same old story, teenage girl with an absentee parental unit plotting her own demise. I'll admit it, I put the book down for a bit and went on with my business. I picked up the book about a week later because I really enjoyed Ms. Portes' Anatomy of a Misfit.

I then proceeded to read this book in one sitting. Why? I think that I was curious about Willa and Remi. Willa is a misfit from a town called What Cheer, Iowa and Remi is the queen of the social scene. The two hit it off, much to the chagrin of the other students at the prestigious Pembroke Prep School.

Willa is shown an entirely different side of life. Beautiful clothes, huge mansions, private island parties, and designer drugs. She notices that some kids can miss classes for days and still graduate. Willa also learns that she has her own options and she does not need to follow her mother's path.

The story is told through Willa's point of view and while she does have a wonderful sense of humor, at times I felt like she should have used some common sense. Again, I must reiterate that I had difficulty with reading this book at first.

Trigger warnings - drugs

Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Teen for a review copy of this book.

516 reviews17 followers
August 22, 2016
Willa leaves What Cheer, Iowa at the insistence of mother and goes to boarding school. She has already figured out she’ll never return, because Willa is planning to commit suicide. On her first day at school, she meets Remy, the toughest girl she has ever seen. Everyone wants to be Remy’s friend because she’s Remy Taft, relative of the president. Remy finds Willa refreshing and decides that she can be her best friend.

In the beginning I was excited. Willa tells the story directly to you, the reader, and speaks to you with her bizarre humor. When Remy came into the picture, my enthusiasm disappeared. Remy is a typical too-rich-for-her-own-good type who feels invisible to her rich family and pulls all kinds of tricks to get noticed. Milo is Willa’s love interest, but from the beginning there is absolutely no spark. He is just another cliché rich type.

I did not understand what Willa found so fascinating about Remy and, to be honest, it was disappointing that to get better Willa needed a spoiled brat of a friend. I liked the writing, although there were moments Willa strayed from of the story, and the end was good, but otherwise I found this book really too cliché.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,306 reviews219 followers
November 2, 2016

Willa, a brilliant girl with a unique brain has never quite fit in with others. Now she's on scholarship at a ritzy boarding school and Remy, the most popular girl in the school has chosen Willa as a partner in crime. But with Willa's friendship comes danger in the form of drugs and reckless behavior. How much is popularity worth?

Andrea Portes gave Willa an irreverent, sarcastic voice. THE FALL OF BUTTERFLIES felt like a conversation between Willa and the reader, because she used second person to directly address us. Portes pulled off this technique seamlessly. At times Willa's vocabulary was beyond that of a teenager, but I could also hear her using erudite words in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

None of the characters felt particularly complex, although Willa did experience interpersonal growth making the story satisfying. Plot wise, not much happened and what little happened took many pages to tell. FALL OF BUTTERFLIES is much more a subtle character journey.

I can neither recommend people read or avoid this novel because nothing stands out as particularly good or bad.
Profile Image for Lauren (runningonwords).
271 reviews21 followers
September 18, 2016
I told myself - no, FORCED myself- to finish this book for the main purpose to see if there was a plot. Good news: there is. It just doesn't come through until 2/3rds way through the novel.

Positives to this piece: it's told from the perspective of a Mid-Western girl in a snooty East Coast environment. Probably the most interesting aspects. But that's about it.

Downsides (the short list): Plot. Too many dangling, unnecessary strings (ghost and flimsy love interest, teacher-student affair [number 1 pet peeve in storylines], surfer boy from Cali?!?!). And also the characters. Unrealistic, non-dynamic and unoriginal. I guess that's what's meant by the title?? - all characters kinda drift off like butterflies? But I only now just thought of that as I write this review. The title played no factor in the novel which I find grossly misleading.
Profile Image for Mary.
52 reviews
August 10, 2021
hmmmmmm I have mixed feelings about this book. There's a sense of hope for the main character but hopelessness for the side characters... Idk, maybe it is realistic....but I find it problematic. Lol wait I'm still processing everything I've read, I just need to type my thoughts here
Ok, I therefore conclude that this novel really isn't my cup of tea because there's basically no moral in the story. I finished reading the book without gaining anything and the plot is just meh. I hate to admit this but I think I just wasted my time reading this novel.
Profile Image for Tara.
600 reviews3 followers
October 15, 2017
This was an ok read, I enjoyed it but didn't really connect with the characters or the story. I actually kept waiting for Remy and Miles to turn out to be fairies but when I was half way through I realised it wasn't going to happen and they were just regular people. I did like the message at the end and was glad Willa could make some decisions for herself.
Profile Image for jana ☀︎.
368 reviews13 followers
July 11, 2021
If I could describe the way I felt after reading this novel, I would use orange juice. All I could think about was the urge to drink something cold, something to quench this thirst and here is the glass of orange juice in all of its pulpy glory, not at all leaving refreshment at its wake. A sip of bitterness. A taste of fruit. It does well enough to quench one's thirst, but it could have been better.

One of its faults lies in its narration. To an extent, it reminds me of the musings that belong to the Percy Jackson Series—an attempt to be funny and relatable, which Percy certainly manages to do— but The Fall of Butterflies forgets about how the characters also need a blend of world building, too.

Now I swerve to one of my pet peeves. The author tends to use short sentences. A lot. Instead of merging those little islets of words into one sentence, she uses seven SHORT sentences—varying from one word to three words a piece—just to showcase a small situation. A situation that need not. To be. Written. Like this. At all.

Well, that’s what I thought. So, I sat there. And I sat there. And I listened. And I sat there. But then it wasn’t stopping. Like for an hour. An hour-long bath.

Yet, it does get better. Surprisingly, it happens after Willa and Remy become acquaintances. Is that supposed to represent how Remy has given Willa a reason to live—that instead of wishing her life and sentences shorter, she could do more than three words before a period? An end? (Maybe I'm overthinking things here.)

But I do like how it’s easy to read. How you instantly get all of Willa's thoughts and meanings without wandering through the woods and creaks, wondering what they meant. And sometimes, Willa can be poetic. Not in the sense of beautiful metaphors about the sun and all, but how both relatable and simple her feelings are expressed.

I know what it’s like to see someone and practically melt the minute you see them because everybody told you there would be someone like that. It’s in every book. In every movie. It’s in every poem since the beginning of time and maybe even written on walls somewhere in caves. Everyone tells you for so long and in so many ways that finally you don’t believe them.

Willa and Milo seemed forced. Maybe they were forced. I honestly thought that Zeb and Willa had more chemistry than the first pair (a bit of rooting for the other, and the prickle of inevitable disappointment along with that thought) and somehow I wished there could have been a chance for Zeb to be more than the 'character who points out and moves the plot'.

But the star of the novel goes out to Remy. Never once did I lose the interest to figure out who she is and what secrets lie between her three day disappearances. What and who are you beyond your mismatching outfits that would look entirely disgusting if not worn by you?

Remy is an enigma. Remy is just... Remy. And chapter sixty-six had me going through wracks of emotions, basically revolving around the idea of 'reach out to her. your fingertips can reach out to her' but all those reveries are simply just you watching a car crash slowly unfold before you.

Yeah. So... a sequel based on Remy Taft? I would love to read that. But another one of Willa? I think the author should just leave it at that.
Profile Image for Em.
995 reviews19 followers
September 26, 2019
"Ladies and gentleman, welcome to freakyland. Population: this."

Willa Parker is not accustomed to the highfalutin world of the rich and famous but when she meets Remy Taft, she finds herself drawn into its centre. A world of drugs, sex and illegalities are not what Willa wanted when she went away to school but she is determined not to let it destroy her. But she can see it destroying her new friends and must decide whether to stop them imploding or to save herself from the fallout.

I have had this book sitting on my shelf since 2016 and never realised it was a contemporary but it turned out to be one of the most interesting contemporaries I've read. Willa has such a distinct voice and the narrative is so lively and fun with lots of fourth wall breaking and directly addressing the audience. It was such a joy to read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

But this book does touch on some serious issues such as relationships between teachers and students, suicide and drug abuse. I don't think Portes leant as much weight to these issues as she could have. It felt like she was trying to show what terrible trauma some teenagers are going through but never bothered to actually help them. It was sad to watch Willa meet these lovely, interesting people only to see them stuck in horrible situations while she gets to escape.

A lovely book with a vibrant narrative voice but could've gone deeper with the issues it touches on.

Warnings: drug use, drug overdose, references to suicide & suicidal ideation, sexual relationship between an adult and a minor and some transphobic language.
Profile Image for John Clark.
2,264 reviews25 followers
June 20, 2018
Take a smart, but wounded girl, have her mother become rich and famous, then abandon her while still controlling part of her life. Don't let her fit in with anyone at school except for the misfits with whom she bonds. Then have her absent mother force her to attend a super fancy prep school without any concern for how the girl feels. Add a roommate who seems alive and daring, but when the veneer wears off, is just as fragile (maybe more so). Mix well and you have Willa Parker. Read this story and you'll laugh, cringe and empathize with how she deals with her own fragility, her gradual awareness of roommate Remy's own self-destructive impulses and an eventual emotional toughening that allows her to see Remy for who she really is and decide where her own life will go. This is a book with biting humor and language as well as wonderful and insightful prose. Definitely worth reading for teens who like a wounded, but very appealing heroine.
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,439 reviews233 followers
May 26, 2020
For me, this book was not bad. I actually really loved Willa's voice, and was throughly entertained throughout the story. It was more of where the story went. I was fully enthralled by Willa, but when she started running with Remy, I felt like she was abandoning her own standards, and running with the crowd. It was also typical "rich people problems". Not from Willa, but the friends she made her boarding school. There were a few really lovely moment shared between Remy and Willa, and I was all about the friendship, but those were few and far between. I wish there had been more of Willa being Willa, because she was funny, witty, intelligent, and fiercely loyal. Again, not bad, not great, could have been better.

Profile Image for Britt.
741 reviews57 followers
October 16, 2022
CW: Suicidal thoughts

The Fall of Butterflies was not the book I thought it was. The main character Willa moves to a private girl school on the East Coast in the US. She plans to kill herself there. But she also meets Remy Taft there. The girls strike up a friendship. Remy is popular, rich and peculiar. She opens up a new world to Willa. But as Remy spirals out of control, Willa can feel Remy spinning right out of her grasp.

I really enjoyed the narrative voice of Willa. It is a very sarcastic, teenage angsty narration and it worked great as an audiobook. The narration is not for everyone but I enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Saskia.
510 reviews
February 16, 2021

3.5 stars for a good story about Willa and Remy and their respective interactions and life choices. CW makes it senior fiction for me but I really enjoyed Willa's voice and think the plot, action and storyline flowed nicely. Some not so great characters but overall, not a bad read.

Re-read 2021.
Profile Image for Jenny.
50 reviews5 followers
May 23, 2020
this wasn’t on the edge of your seat kinda book. it was insightful & meaningful. i liked the way it was written- like a spill all from the protagonist. a great coming of age story. an easy, enjoyable read.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 220 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.