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Market of Monsters #1

Not Even Bones

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Dexter meets This Savage Song in this dark fantasy about a girl who sells magical body parts on the black market — until she’s betrayed.

Nita doesn’t murder supernatural beings and sell their body parts on the internet—her mother does that. Nita just dissects the bodies after they’ve been “acquired.” But when her mom brings home a live specimen, Nita decides she wants out — dissecting living people is a step too far.

But when she tries to save her mother’s victim, she ends up sold on the black market in his place — because Nita herself is a supernatural being. Now Nita is on the other side of the bars, and there is no line she won’t cross to escape and make sure no one can ever capture her again.

Nita did a good deed, and it cost her everything. Now she’s going to do a lot of bad deeds to get it all back.

368 pages, ebook

First published September 4, 2018

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About the author

Rebecca Schaeffer

8 books1,175 followers
Rebecca Schaeffer is the critically acclaimed author of Not Even Bones, Only Ashes Remain, and When Villains Rise. The Webtoon adaptation of the trilogy has garnered over a hundred million reads and nearly 2 million subscribers. Her next book, City of Nightmares, comes out in January 2023.


I read a lot of books and have a lot of opinions, so the only books I put up and rate on Goodreads are ones I absolutely loved and would heartily recommend to my fans.


I also don't add friends and I don't have time to keep up on all platforms, so Goodreads is just for posting book reviews. If you want to contact me, there's a form on my website ^_^

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,861 reviews
Profile Image for Rebecca Schaeffer.
Author 8 books1,175 followers
April 20, 2017
Many will call my main characters monsters. Many will call them villains.

They would be right.

I wrote this book for the people who watched movies as children and screamed, "why don’t you just kill the bad guy already???" For the people who watched heroes proselytize on screen and said, "It’s not that simple." For the people who watched the villains with fascination and whispered softly, where the normal, good, proper people wouldn’t hear, “I want to see their story.”

This, my friends, is their story.

If you’re still interested, then, please, crack open the cover and delve into the darkness. But you’ve been warned.

Here be monsters.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
December 22, 2019
Wow, so.... the "Dexter meets This Savage Song" comparison really encapsulates this? This was not the most well-written thing I have ever read but I really really enjoyed my time reading it. This is a deeply fucked up book, in a good way. You know how sometimes, you read YA fantasy and you just feel like it could have gone darker and it doesn’t? Not Even Bones just keeps Going There.

Not Even Bones follows Nita, a girl who dissects other supernatural beings for the black market - until she’s sold into the black market herself. So first of all, this book is impossible to put down and so addicting. It's almost a thriller and almost an urban fantasy book and either way, it's so fun to read. I never knew what was coming next - all I knew was that I was desperate to find out.

And better yet, this book features some seriously cool worldbuilding. Nita lives in a world where supernatural beings are prized for their parts but despised for their being, but also look exactly like other humans.

Something I liked here is there is some seriously biting social commentary slipped in there? Set in Peru and following American characters, this book doesn’t shy away from the obvious discussion of colonialism and privilege in America. With a lead cast of almost entirely characters of color, it’s a very interesting read. There’s also some discussion of eugenics-ish politics, which as some of you may know is something I’m super passionate about.

Okay, I’ve enthused a lot about the worldbuilding and all that, but I really think what made this book for me was the character work. All these lead characters are so awful and I love them. This is one of those books where the leads toe the line between villain and hero. Also, if you don’t like villain leads, you should probably not read this. Lol.

One of the things I really liked about this book is that the lead character doesn’t prioritize the survival of other people over herself. In a lot of fiction I’ve read with these vibes, the leads are something I’d like to call Unrealistically Good. Not to shit on unrealistically self-sacrificing people, but people do not tend to be willing to risk their lives for others at the drop of a hat. Nita, by contrast, is out for herself. And it’s not even what makes her an antihero!! She’s a total antihero, don’t get me wrong, but I think this book really understands the general human impulse to save your own skin [haha. Skin.]. Instead of prioritizing normal morals, this book puts the emphasis on a personal moral code, and the lines we refuse to cross so we do not lose our humanity. Nita is willing to kill and dismember and dissect, but she has lines.

Oh, and Nita? I love Nita. I would die for Nita. Her character development is incredibly excellent. And also Kovit is… a character. I can’t spoil shit but I love them and I also really like a certain side character and I am so here for it.

Oh, and this book in general was pretty twisty, but there was also this one twist in this book that I think might have been the end of my brain. I guess plot twists a lot but this was just… fucking wild, I feel like I should have guessed it and I did not at all. I need the second book immediately. @Rebecca Schaeffer where are you give me the fucking second book I need this

I guess if I were to critique this, I would say that the writing is a bit… fanfictiony? I don’t know, man, it’s a debut and it happens. Did I care? Nope.

Anyway, you should read this. It is so fucked up and the lead and love interest are both so terrible and it scared me shitless and it is the BEST.
TW: so much body horror, sadism.

Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube
April 29, 2021

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Fantasy stories often have magic potions that are made up of the body parts of living creatures, even in Harry Potter, where bits of unicorn can be put into potions or wands - but where do those parts come from? NOT EVEN BONES explores that grim and unsavory concept in the form of Nita and her family, dealers in the magical black market, selling magical body parts to collectors, perverts, and criminals. Nita enjoys her work, with a blood-thirsty joy that's reminiscent of Kerri Maniscalo's heroine, Audrey Rose, in STALKING JACK THE RIPPER. NOT EVEN BONES is a much better book, however, with tight plotting, morally grey characters, and a grim world and setting that at times seems almost too dark to be YA.

The summary for this book is vague and a little misleading. It isn't really like Dexter, except for the whole cutting up dead bodies thing, and I haven't read anything by Schwab to completion, but - unpopular opinion time - what I did read by her seemed pretty bland and fanfictiony, in that way that all Tumblr-popular writers seem to have. NOT EVEN BONES is set in our world, which came as a surprise to me at first because the summary made me think this was going to be high fantasy. There are magical creatures and everyone knows they exist, and governments are in disagreement about how many rights they should have and what should be done about them.

The heroine is Latina and the "hero"is Burmese/Thai. Most of this book is set in South America, which will be a pleasant surprise to those of you who often find yourselves complaining about the Western bias in fantasy settings. The characters actually swear instead of saying those made-up swear words that sound so stupid in everything that isn't Firefly, including dropping a few F-bombs. The story, as I said, is DARK. Graphic torture scenes, and discussions of incredibly unsavory topics like organ and body-part harvesting, eugenics, and abuse in virtually all forms. I'm pretty hard to shock, but this book made even me think, "I'm going to need a thousand hugs when this is over."

I'm honestly shocked this book didn't make more of a splash when it came out, since it's virtually everything readers have been asking for every time they criticize YA fantasy for being what it is.

Warning: ends on a mean mother of a cliffhanger.

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!

4 stars
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews931 followers
July 5, 2019
Even YA readers require depth, of which this book has none.
Profile Image for Xiran Jay Zhao.
Author 3 books10.3k followers
July 18, 2018

Personal Rating: i'd let this book murder me and toss me to the bottom of the Amazon River

Recommended For: Those that go NOOOOOO WHYYYYYY whenever a protagonist chickens outta doing something seriously fucked up but would've been so! fucking! juicy to watch!

This book plunges unapologetically into the darkest parts of humanity. No selective filter that only presents the "cool" sides of violence while protecting you from getting too traumatized. No shying away from issues 'cause it's scared it'll make you uncomfortable.

Rebecca Schaeffer doesn't give a shit if you're disturbed.

SO, uhh... do think twice about reading this if you'd be unsettled by human trafficking, bodily mutilation, detailed dissection sequences, and general human depravity that makes you stare off into the distance thinking of how shitty the world can be. Not everyone is into reading about that, and that's fine. You've been warned though.

It's too simple to describe this book as just "dark". Lemme tell you a big problem I have with a lot of books and media that get slapped with that label. In the end, they either 1. don't actually let their protagonist get their hands dirty, 2. just has them do "badass" things to be ~ * COOL AND EDGY * ~, or 3. try to convince you the correct thing to do when all odds are against you is to hold on to your honor and never lose your "humanity". Because falling to the level of your tormentors would make you no better than them. Or something.


This book is about breaking all the rules other people made and living by your own. Because if all those other fuckers are laughing and running around being comfortable with what they do while you're sitting there doubting yourself at every turn, how are you supposed to win? Especially when you're a person like our dear protagonist Nita, who secretly likes some of the fucked up shit she does. She just thought she wasn't "supposed to". Well, when she's betrayed and thrown into a cage in a hidden black market in the rain forests of Peru, where there are "spiders that eat birds", she has to determine what she's willing or not willing to do real fast. You cannot hope for some mystical force made up in your head to punish those you hate. If you want them to pay, the only reliable way is doing it yourself.

Not Even Bones is ultimately a story about a girl coming to terms with her true self. Not what other people want her to be, not what she thinks she should be, but the raw, complicated human under all the social constructs and expectations forced onto her by both others and herself. She faces the vilest parts of humanity and then grasps it within herself for power. A big theme: morals are optional. They have no real binding power. If you make life-or-death choices expecting others will abide by the same principles you do...

Full review at my blog.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,162 reviews1,519 followers
August 12, 2018
Nita has always had an interest in anatomy so jumping into the family business didn't seem like a bad thing when it let Nita study the corpses her mother brought home. You see, there's a market for the body parts of supernatural beings and Nita turns a blind eye to how her mother acquires these beings in the interest of her studies. 

Nita however never expected her mother to show up one day with a live boy captive and still expect Nita to still procure the necessary body parts for profit. This is the line that rattles Nita to her part in the family business and when she defies her mother then next thing Nita knows the tables are turned and she's waking up in her own cage having been captured on the black market. 

Well now, it would probably go without saying that Not Even Bones would not be a read for the faint of heart. Gone are the super special heroine who uses her super special powers fighting the evil of the world and in walks dark and twisted Nita and her diabolical mother. Yep, a bit of a gruesome tale right from the start but certainly a creative young adult paranormal fantasy read. 

This one has the urban fantasy feel being set in a world like ours only with paranormals existing among the humans but does take place in areas not often used in novels. Nita is also completely different than regular characters with the Dexter comparison really showing. Not sure I ever really "rooted" for her but some may and her story was certainly compelling. This is one I'd recommend to those looking for a more dark and twisted read out of the norm. 

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Beatrice in Bookland.
448 reviews837 followers
December 15, 2018
"Betrayal is a bloody business."

This book is completely fucked up. That's why I love it so much.
The headline speaks the truth, this is a perfect blend of Dexter's blood and gore and This savage song's monsters. You're never going to find a more original young adult book, do yourself a favour and pick Not even bones up.

Are you tired of protagonists who have one goal that they never achieve because of their one true love?
Are you tired of protagonists who couldn't care less about their survival (unrealistic af)?
Are you tired of protagonists who are as pure as Tinkerbell's fairy dust?

GET READY TO MEET AND LOVE NITA. She's awesome. She fights to tooth and nail save her own life and if that ain't realistic I don't know what is. And yeah, okay, she loved dissecting bodies but everyone has a hobby, just leave her alone.
You're also going to fall in love with Kovit, tho. He's the male protagonist and he's one of Nita's ... captors, more or less. His hobby is torturing people and eating their pain (what a perfect match lol). I'm not gonna say anything else about him because his characterisation is a joy to read. Also, get ready for an enemies to lovers slow burn.

The atmosphere is amazing, too. The story takes place in the Mercado de la muerte, The death market. A market where people can sell monsters, supernatural creatures and body parts. Awesome.

Now I don't know how I'm going to wait for the sequel(s) - btw this is going to be a trilogy - cause it ends with such an interesting cliffhanger, I can't wait to see what Nita's going to do next!
Profile Image for sofia (sam willows).
286 reviews356 followers
Want to read
September 24, 2017
okay but why is this synopsis literally everything I’ve ever wanted from a book in my life
Profile Image for Kayla Dawn.
291 reviews896 followers
April 3, 2020
Can I please read a good YA book soon so it can restore my faith in this genre? Thanks
Profile Image for mith.
751 reviews258 followers
August 30, 2018
find this review and others on biscotto's books!
Originally, I’d given this 4 stars on goodreads and honestly?

I don’t know why. I loved this book. Why would I give it 4 stars? Not Even Bones was everything dark and morally grey I wanted in a book for so long. Screw 4 stars. This deserves all 5 of them.

Past Mith was not thinking, evidently, but current Mith—me!! current me!—is thinking. And I say that this book is a solid debut and you need to pre-order if you can.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably craved a dark YA that pushes the boundaries. Or wished a book dug a little deeper, got a little—a lot—darker. Schaeffer does that. I hope she continues to do that.

I just loved it. I loved how messy and grey the main character was. How deeply Not Good all the other characters acted. But, Nita. Man, if Nita doesn’t have my heart—I’ll refrain from including a bad line here. She was such a badass and she got things done. She was logical, level-headed, and didn’t suffer from that self-sacrificing nonsense. She was always her first priority and I adored it.

Not Even Bones has a lot of great things going on for it, but one of my favourite parts was how Schaeffer talked about privilege in the book. It’s not something I’m super nuanced in actually, properly discussing, unfortunately, but it is something I’m becoming more and more aware of and I’m glad Schaeffer brought it up.

There wasn’t a lot that really bothered me? I mean, maybe a small thing here or there, but mostly that was the different supernaturals mentioned. They each had something that made them unique, and dropping stuff like that doesn’t help my confusion lmao. I loved that they were part of the world, though.

I was not expecting most of what happens in this book outside of what’s mentioned in the synopsis. So all the twists? Definitely caught me off guard and definitely added to my enjoyment of the book. It was also what made Not Even Bones so difficult to put down!

Would I recommend this? Oh, yes. Yes, I definitely would. Dark, sort of gory, and bloody, this was a wild start and a wilder finish. If you’re squeamish, maybe skip this one. But if you’re not, I definitely say check it out!
Profile Image for Booktastically Amazing.
470 reviews392 followers
November 22, 2021
Blood, blood and more blood. Oh! And nightmares.
Is there ever such a more wonderful thing than that?

Rating: 🩸🩸🩸🩸🩸 4.7

Sometimes (when I actually realize it's actually slightly concerning) I wonder, how would I live without my uncanny adoration for gritty, disturbing books that reach a gnarled hand to the deepest well inside me and rip out all morals as I slowly start to fall for the villain?

I know my therapist probably wouldn't have 16 Lamborghini vehicles and 27 houses. Yes, I have indeed created a life for an imaginary being (her name's Edna, by the way). Sue me, we- I mean I get bored.

Let's commence this *ahem* review by stating that I never thought I would fall for this book as hard and pungent as I did.
Frankly, I truly am surprised I hadn't read this before being assaulted by horrible books and even more terrible sequels. Also, WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME HOW GOOD THIS WAS -y'all seriously deprived my misery addled egos (not you Edna) from such an amazing concept of a read (read: Booksy tries to sound educated)

Again, was it perfect? Um... yeah, nope.
Was it immaculate? Okay, pretty close, but also a no.
Did it make me swoon over scalpels and bone shredding? No- actually, maybe it did. ALL WITHIN CONTEXT, FBI agents that spies on me! TRUST ME, the book is something else.

And one of those 'something else elements' was the whole shabam wham maybe kill you ma'am of the plot.
Black market dealer lives to dissect and somehow gets sold to said black market and everyone is withing the parameter of 'if you breathe, I will denote a bomb in your skull' territory and bloodshed is as common as, well, bloodshed.
Tell me, how am I supposed to not completely and utterly combust into pleasure filled mewls of satisfaction concerning said storyline?? *DEEP BREATHE*
It is wholly irresistible, I tell you. From the ambience to the gory interludes that left me feeling slightly impressed and a lot of 'I'm smiling, I shouldn't be smiling. Booksy, no. Stop grinning like a maniac. Oh great, you've started cackling at murder jokes right now. You've fallen from a lower perch to a lower one, dear one'. Either way, the plot made me question myself a LOT. I adored the way things flowed, how the storyline progressed, THE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, basically all the things that upped this book to THE book for me.
I was on the edge of my throne and screenshotting the ever living crap out of the chapters and their epic monologues that would provide evidence to my friends SO THEY COULD READ IT AND FREAK OUT WITH ME. Total chakra alignment and whatnot.

Yes, I read this in a day.
Also, yes, I regret nothing. My eyes and soul regret some things and maybe my moral compass is askew, but I'm all good-

The writing for this book, albeit with its many (many) flaws, made the whole experience of skinning my heart, that more profound. Of course, it was painful, of course it felt like a portion of my essence (though rather fabulous indeed. Pfft) was being drained and of course I felt ever so satisfied.

Yell help if you need it

Even though some metaphors were slightly overused, and counting the slight repetitions of similes, I still thoroughly would kill for it enjoyed it.
Though please stop using 'as shiny as a shampoo commercial', it hurts my eyes already.
Use something else.
Literally anything else.
It's hair, for Pete's sake.
Say it looks like marble.
And barks.

Now, the characters. My love for the characters.
Gray characters.
Beautifully crafted characters.
The *characters*. Yes, I think we're going to talk about them for a (while) bit.

Nita, the MC, owns this ish. Like, owns me as well. Sometimes I wonder if she would kill me for laughing the wrong way, but that's besides the point. She's one of three things at all times: scared out of her mind (totally understandable), furious (I really felt that), or wants to kill and dissect everything around her (yeah, uh... still haven't gotten there yet). No seriously, she mentioned her dissecting room more than 12 times, I kinda got the appeal after the 10th time it was mentioned. Like, dang, I want to know how it feels to pop an eye of its socket. In theory, all of that, in theory.

We all know how it feels to pop out an eye.
Especially the scooping it with a spoon part.

This girl right here was 17 years old and still much smarter than me. And I'm 4567 years old, so maybe I need to wok on that for a while. Coming back to exuberantly describing her, so I can freak out later on: she was strength, bad decisions and grayness all in an appetizing package of 'OH MY GOD, ANOTHER FEMALE MC THAT'S ACTUALLY SMART'. It's so difficult to ask for, these days. Rather serial killer-y, but I can forgive. To an extent, *snort*.

Then we have the amazing and ever so appealing: Kovit.
*furious flashback to those texts I sent to my friends about how I was falling for a torturer, and out of context, it sounds like I don't have all my senses. Which I do*
If I've ever felt more conflicted and indecisive of my feelings for a character, he takes the whole darn prize.
For one, he tortures people.
He loves torturing people.
He even admits it. For second, the guy adores feeding on pain he caused. He loved being the evil one, the bad guy, the bad boy gone horribly astray.
And guess what, y'all-
I actually fell for that.

A little. Let me explain, I was terrified of him when he was in his crazy killer persona, and perhaps he'll never own a space in the boyfriends list because my feelings for him are just too complicated to unwrap. However, his human side was adorable and incredibly full of life! He was a sweet being, with extreme flaws but beautiful countenance, and frankly, I saw the assurance of his humanity in some spare moments where the emotions were too hard to handle and someone had to break. He's complicated as a persona and even more disturbing as a human, bearing morals as his weakness.

But a part of me still loves him.
Dang it.

Lastly, there are the background characters. Honestly? I really liked them as well! I liked Nita's mom because she made me hate her more than I though possible and gave an outlet to my feelings of fury concerning certain events. I loved the glimpses of other characters, adored how some of them had this whole life before the story took place, and especially how they seemed so real to me. Sometimes too real, alas, one must pick battles one can win. At least I can say that when I stayed up to 3 am to finish this book.

And I had to work the next morning. Oh, the wonders of book addictage. (totally a word)

On a closing note, the diversity was beautiful and yooooooo, the MC was POC. I need to take a moment to clear the snot from my eyes.
POC assassin, dissector galore, gory goddess, plan making fiasco queen. I am still reeling from the aftermath of her amazing presence and even better comebacks. Kovit as always, you shall own my heart until you don't, because you'll for sure get bored with me and maybe try to take the pain you crave from... me. Dang, maybe don't do that. Again, the story was not without its flaws, the pace was a little strange at times, but I still ached to know the aftermath. How the battles would end, who would end up knees deep in bones and who would sit astride a throne of knives.


I would dissect myself for this book.
And yes, that’s the least disturbing thing I read here.

If this is not bloody enough or doesn't deeply traumatize me.

I'm suing
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,711 reviews703 followers
August 26, 2018
Everything about this book — from the cover to the tag line — seems like it’s for me. Sadly I was quite disappointed.

I liked Nita well enough. She didn’t come across as developed and I found it sort of hard to root for her {excluding the captivity part} because I wasn’t invested in her story. My favorite character was Kovit and I did like the interactions between him and Nita.

Plot wise, it was sort of meh. There isn’t any sort of world building or explanation for the hows and whys. The relationships were all very shallow and lacking background. I see that it’s not a stand alone, which is what I expected going in, but I don’t think that makes up for the lack of information.

Overall, it was an amazing idea with an intriguing ending, but the execution wasn’t for me. I’m not sure if I will be giving the next book a try.

**Huge thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Amy Risner.
191 reviews753 followers
August 31, 2018
ARC provided by HMH via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

I truly wish I loved this book more! I feel like the description was made for me. Anything that’s compared to Dexter gets my vote. But this was such a huge disappointment for me. As the synopsis says, Nita dissects bodies of “unnaturals” for her mother to sell on the black market. But after a betrayal, she becomes a victim herself; locked away in a cell and tortured.

To be honest this book gave me major Hostel vibes. There are characters that feel a high from inflicting pain on others, and some take pleasure in dismembering and eating people. Y’all, I’m usually a huge fan of serial-killer-thrillers but the graphic nature of these torture scenes felt really weird. Like some of it felt really pointless and just dragged the story on and on…

And once the story is set in motion, everything just kept going around in circles. I felt there was zero resolution, a lack of world building and character development, and Nita was such an idiot.

However, here is my biggest praise for this book: There is a Thai main character. If you know me then you’ll know that I am Thai, and I have NEVER read a single YA book where there is a Thai character. So I was literally jumping for joy and tweeting about it when I was introduced to Kovit. Not only is he Thai but he also tells us the creepy story about the krasue, a Thai folk tale involving a female monster that’s nothing more than a floating disembodied head with its spine and intestines still attached. Yes, that’s right, MY OWN GRANDMOTHER used to tell me that a krasue would come take me away if I didn’t fall asleep right away. HOW are you supposed to sleep after knowing about THAT THING!?

Okay, but seriously, I really did like Kovit a lot. He was the type of unapologetic, morally grey character I like in a horror/fantasy stories. I just wasn’t a fan of Nita or, really, the entire plot. But major props to Rebecca Schaeffer for including such diverse characters!

Another thing is that I didn’t realize this was going to be a series (this is entirely my fault.) Imagine my dismay when I reached the 90% mark to discover literally nothing has happened and NOTHING was resolved. Oh, you want any sort of resolution and answers? Gotta wait for the next book. Which I do not plant to read. Bummer.

I’m sorry I didn’t love this more, and I hope my negativity didn’t ruin this for you. If you’re okay with gore/torture scenes then this may be a good read for Halloween. I just wish the story had more depth and world building to it, and overall it needed way more things to happen to keep the story moving forward to justify a sequel.

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Profile Image for greta.
201 reviews206 followers
July 16, 2020
"𝐌𝐨𝐫𝐚𝐥𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡."
Yesterday I finished 𝕹𝖔𝖙 𝕰𝖛𝖊𝖓 𝕭𝖔𝖓𝖊𝖘 and gave it 4⭐! Even though it was missing something for me to give it five stars, it doesn't mean it's not fascinating. I loved the characters, they were really well developed, the magic which was really unique, loved the writing style, story line and everything. Nita was one fierceless girl and I admired her since the beginning lol. Also I could see the relationship building between Nita and Kovit, but we'll see where that goes in the next two books 😏 I STAN OK!
Profile Image for ♠ TABI⁷ ♠.
Author 15 books485 followers
October 3, 2019
'Nita had learned a long time ago—you don’t want to know anything about the person whose body you’re taking apart.'


I'm not entirely sure how to describe my love for this dark, bloody, absolutely brilliant book . . . mostly because it's so dark and bloody. And somehow that's the best part of it??? What I love the most is that this book doesn't hold back but punches you with full weight. It's like a gory breath of fresh air. It's weird and messed up in all the most fascinating, thoughtful ways. I just . . . there is just SO MUCH I love about this--fantastic plot, convoluted morally-gray characters, alternate world of monsters and the politics surrounding that supernatural reality, evil vs less evil . . . JUST SO MUCH OKAY?!?!

I will do my best to not scream about spoilers because, hi, there are some amazing twists in here. But the writing itself is also just so good even without the other elements?? I absolutely loved the sparse, blunt prose in here with it's morbid touches of a lovely poetic slant. For this to be a debut novel and be written this good??? Oh yes, we have talent here. I was also reminded so much of Victoria Schwab's writing with this book (which I love) and how, even though this stands out uniquely on its own, it still was like something I wish I had to read after the hollowness left by This Savage Song & Vicious.

'In the corner, a tub of formaldehyde caused everything to reek of death. The smell kept sneaking out of the room and making its way into Nita’s clothes. She found it strangely comforting. That was probably a bad sign. But, if Nita was being honest with herself, most of her habits and life choices were bad signs.


Nita is probably one of the coolest, complicated YA heroines I've ever read. She's tough, gets a calming thrill from dissecting supernatural bodies, has been raised by blackmarket body-part dealers . . . oh yeah, and she's a supernatural creature herself. The war between the monstrous parts of her versus doing what it takes to survive, and somehow trying to keep herself on some level of normality or "good" was such a joy to read. I love complicated, tangled characters okay, and oh myyyyyy does this book deliver them!!

'She felt like a witch, creating a potion in a pot, but her cauldron was her own body.'


The messed up world full of Unnaturals in this book was absolutely amazing. I was happily shocked with how a story of gray characters fighting for survival could also be one of the most quietly intellectual books I'd read this year?? The author skillfully touches on racism, culture differences, how English-speaking people can tend to act towards people of other languages . . . all in a book about monsters. And there are also great discussion points about all the different kinds of monsters, especially what KIND of monster you can choose to be.

"Pain. Everyone is always in pain. Whether it's a loose hangnail, a sore joint, a cramped back muscle—something. No human is never not in at least a minute amount of pain."


Kovit is the secondary character of the book, and the one who rose up into the spotlight quite unexpectedly. Of course, since I had my shipping senses on, almost as soon as he made an appearance, my brain went "this, you gotta ship this," because it's weird like that BUT my shipping tendencies aside, Kovit is such a multi-faceted character. He makes absolutely no show of humanity, claiming the Unnatural part of him with a dark kind of glee. But as more is revealed about him, his love for violent pain makes sense. And, y'all, I love him.

'In a weird, twisted way, Nita almost felt like Kovit's and her stories were opposite facets on the same diamond. Different, sure, but similar in some fundamental ways.'


I was just literally chortling with happiness over all the feelings this book gave me with these two main characters because THIS is the dark, enemies-to-more kind of slow-burn I crave. Is it something I would approve of IRL??? ahahahahahaha no but it's what I love in my fiction, okay?? Also, these two clash again and again, yet are still somehow magnetically drawn to each other in so many ways. But I also loved how, even though they're both the classic definition of monsters, they still try to keep each other to some level of morality? It was these kind of attributes and dialogue that really made me realize my love for this book AND just how freaking talented this author is.

"But the problem with losing your morality is that sometimes it takes other things with it. You don't realize the things that are important to you, in order to be the person you want to be, until you've already damaged them beyond repair."

I could shriek on and on about how much I love this gory, gray-scale world of a book. But it's getting late, I will probably drop spoilers, and instead I shall just obsessively re-read and cackle happily.
Profile Image for Maggie ☘.
534 reviews654 followers
January 27, 2021
*4.5/5 stars*

“When did you cross over into serial killer territory, Nita?”

This is such an underrated gem! I haven't been quite this hooked while reading a book in too long.

Not Even Bones follows Nita, who dissects people. She lives in a world where unnaturals are hunted for body parts, which have various effects (from lessening pain to drugging etc). Her mother hunts unnatruals, Nita dissects them, then they are sold on the black market for parts. Things has always been that way. Nita would rather dissect a dead body, than talk to a living person, way too difficult. But one day, her mother doesn't bring home a corpse, but a living being. Planning to slowly cut him to parts and having Nita watch it all and help, Nita decides on a rushed plan which sets into motion a slew of events unlike anything Nita has ever been through before.

"It took a special type of monster to dissect dead people and sell them without guilt. Nita was aware that morally speaking, she wasn’t on the good side of the scale. In fact, she was probably closer to the serial killer side of the scale. Sometimes thinking that bothered her a little. But then she stopped thinking about it and the uneasy feeling went away."

Nita is a morally grey heroine, and very complex one. She's not evil, nor is she completely good. She is very much a human growing up under her circumstances and I loved how her character and inner POV was done. This is the kind of main character I love to follow!

"Nita couldn’t imagine it—people would never take action like that in the US markets. There, after the dealers bribed the shit out of the authorities, the locals just looked away and pretended nothing was happening. They didn’t want to see the darkness, refused to believe that their country could have such an ugly underbelly.
They thought because the US was a “first-world country,” they didn’t have black markets or human trafficking."

This book also isn't afraid to get real and dark. There's black markets, human trafficking, selfishness, poverty, survival. I really appreciated Nita's commentary throughout the book about privilege and what it means being privileged (mainly discussed American privilege in contrast to countries closest to it), colonialism, money being a big (or the only) part of what it means to have 'power' in this world and the frequent misuse of it, the misuse of people (and countries) without that kind of power by those who do. It really brought up so many issues that I've been thinking about as well and that people should be aware of, and it brought them up in a really organic way to Nita's life and her story.

"She passed by the open door of a restaurant and saw a pair of American tourists snapping at a waiter. The woman was snarling something in English, and the waiter just stared at her, smile frozen on his face while shaking his head and trying to tell her, in a mix of broken English and Spanish, that he didn’t understand.
“Well, find me someone who does!” snapped the woman, and then she turned to her husband. “You’d think they could hire people that speak English.”
Nita rolled her eyes as she passed. Why was there this obsession Americans had that others should learn their language to accommodate them? They were in Peru. Why didn’t those American people learn Spanish?
She saw it everywhere, the weird entitlement. Tourists who stole pieces of pottery and coins from German castles because they could. Rich men who flew in to Ho Chi Minh thinking they could buy anyone they wanted for a night and do anything they wanted to them, laws of the country be damned."

The plot grabbed me from the start, the writing style is easy and fresh - both making for very easy book to read in a day or two.

The ending compelles me to pick up book two very soon. Also, there's an ongoing webtoon based on this book and it's amazing as well!

"Of course there would be corruption in INHUP. There was corruption in everything. People had yet to design an incorruptible police force or government, or an incorruptible anything, really. You’d have to change human nature to do that."

All in all, highly recommended for people looking for a book with complex grey characters and story which isn't afraid to go there. The book touches on many issues, follows largely POC cast. As well as for those, who are tired of the recent mediocre YA high fantasies and want to read a really good YA urban fantasy with unique world building. Very addictive read. This is the the type of thing I've been mising from recent YA releases.

"Stories here didn’t get neat endings tied up in a bow."
Profile Image for Vicky Again.
596 reviews816 followers
September 4, 2018
4.5 stars

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!

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Vicky Who Reads
Profile Image for Ishmeen.
380 reviews153 followers
August 17, 2020
I love how messed up this world is and how equally messed up the MC is because I have never read anything like this before. The story is unique and well crafted, although I was a bit bored in the middle due to the slow pace (hence the lack of a star). The romance is a very slow burn - I was rooting for Kovit and Nita since their first meeting and this ship BETTER sail because now I am hella invested. Also, Fabricio can piss right off :) There is so much potential for where the story could go, I am pumped to see where it heads next 👏🏼
Profile Image for may ➹.
481 reviews1,957 followers
Want to read
January 12, 2020
I accidentally typed “not even vibes” while frantically searching for this in my library catalogue because I just found out that there’s a Thai main character and that’s EXACTLY how I’m feeling hearing about the Thai rep 2 years late!!!!!
Profile Image for *Tau*.
257 reviews24 followers
November 22, 2022
There are some great webcomics to read for free on the internet.
The problem is that there are so many that sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees.

Next year I'm definitely planning to explore more of them!
Two years ago I read On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden, which was really great. If you're interested, you can read my review here (a link to the webcomic is included).
This year I read Not even bones (season 1).

The version of Not even bones on Webtoon can be read here.
It's based on the eponymous novel by Rebecca Schaeffer that I haven't read, so I can't compare the two of them.
But my first impression of the webtoon was very positive.

Season 1 is very action oriented and the story keeps a good pace.
Even though the characters are socio/psychopathic and there's a lot of violence and gore, the series is addictive and you want to know what will happen next.
It was also impressive how different atmospheres where depicted just by a few drawings and some lines of dialogue.
For those who haven't a broad knowledge of worldwide legends (Thailand, Peru, …), this is certainly a good introduction as you get to know more about krasue, pishtacos, …

Season 2 on the other hand was a serious letdown.
There's a different team working on the second installment of this webtoon and it shows. Unfortunately not for the better.
It's much more YA-like and full of boring blablabla and repeating the same things over and over again. The characters don't act in the same way anymore to how they were portrayed in the first season.
Personally I DNF the second season, because it felt too much like a concept that was milked to the very last drop.

Actually, I would rate the first season 4,5* and totally recommend it!
The second season though is absolutely not at the same level and for me it's worth a meager 2*.
Still, I'm going to rate this webcomic 4*, because the first season is top notch and really worth checking out.
Profile Image for clem.
520 reviews373 followers
November 12, 2018
“Pain. Everyone is always in pain. Whether it’s a loose hangnail, a sore joint, a cramped back muscle—something. No human is never not in at least a minute amount of pain."


While this book didn't leave me angry and pouncing in my bed way after my bedtime, it also didn't happen to be a pleasant read. I'm ambivalent. Not Even Bones is not a bad book by any standards, in fact, I think it's better than most YA Fantasy I've ever read but it also didn't blow my mind.

Not Even Bones tells the story of a teenage girl (who's definitely a Slytherin) who likes to cut dead monster's body before her mother sells them to the black market in South America. Then, a child is kidnapped and Nita has to cut him into pieces but alive this time, what will Nita do?

It's pitched as Dexter meets This Savage Song, which sounds really interesting, it's what drew me in, in the first place but the execution could have been done so much better.

I think the biggest problem with this book was the fact that it was way way way too short. It's barely 300 pages and for the debut of a fantasy series, it's hella short and it feels short. The story unravels really quickly and takes place in the span of a week, maybe 2 if I'm feeling generous. The character development is minimal and so is the description. This book feels too minimal.

So, I've only heard great things about this book and while I wasn't a fan, I don't hold anything against it in any way so I hope that my review doesn't change your interest in the slightest way. In fact, I hope you'll give it a try and share your opinion as well!
Profile Image for Cortney -  The Bookworm Myrtle Beach.
826 reviews111 followers
March 9, 2020
Very cool, very unique story line. I felt a little lost at the beginning, definitely could have used some explanation about a lot of stuff. I even checked to make sure this was the first book at one point.

But once I got into the story, the questions started to get answered, and I ended up really, really enjoying it

Very excited to continue this story with Nita and Kovit!
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,145 reviews1,010 followers
August 27, 2018
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight


I love a dark book. Sometimes, books that are advertised as "dark" don't end up being such. Worry not, because Not Even Bones absolutely delivers on all promises of being messed up, while still managing to tell an intriguing story. I have seen some reviews that mention trigger warnings but... I wouldn't even know where to start, so I'll just say this: 'tis not for the squeamish among you. So why don't we talk about what I enjoyed about this one!

The aforementioned disturbing fuckery. Oh how I love a book that makes me wonder how an author can come up with such depravity! I mean, when a book starts with a teenager prepping for an autopsy on her kitchen table, you know you're in for some shenanigans. And it truly is just the tip of the iceberg!

How did I end up loving these characters with very questionable (if any) morality? I don't know, but I did. Nita was making all kinds of messed up choices based on self-preservation (or even, in the case of the dissections, pure morbid fascination), and sometimes she'd make me mad but then... nope. I liked her. I somehow liked a person who needs a scalpel in hand to relax. And then. Then I started to like one of the "bad" guys, and maybe I too am a terrible person, who can tell? In seriousness, I think that was kind of the point- that even though the main characters certainly aren't "good guys"... well, maybe there are no good guys. (You're welcome for sneaking that The 100 reference in.)

Not everyone is... strictly human. There are all kinds of hybrid creatures- human passing, for the most part, but with some sort of supernatural ability or quirk. And because humanity as a whole is pretty horrible, people will pay a ton of money for umm bits and pieces of said supernatural beings. Hence the whole "dissection and sales" portion of the book. Even more, a lot of the supernatural creatures are loathed- and not just the ones with violent tendencies. It certainly brings up the very relevant real world question: why are many people so intolerant of anyone who's "different"? 

The story had me on the edge of my seat! I had no idea how this was going to turn out, really. I didn't know at the time that there would be a sequel, and I am so happy that there will be. The story is non-stop excitement, even in the calmer, more character-driven moments.

Speaking of character-driven moments, Nita (and even some of the other characters) went through some great development during the story. Nita was forced to do a whole lot of self-reflecting during the course of the book, and she had to come face to face with some things she might not have loved to acknowledge about herself. But she also found some strength and awareness she didn't know she had, too. The character growth was pretty fabulous.  

Will I Read the Sequel: Oh yes yes definitely, I will take it now please and thank you. (Nevermind the fact that it's probably as yet unwritten.)

Bottom Line: So wonderfully, completely demented, yet somehow managing to make me care for the equally maladjusted characters, this book definitely lived up to its premise!
Profile Image for Tala .
192 reviews89 followers
August 12, 2018
This was hella weird, but in the best way possible.

I wouldn’t be exaggerating at all when I say that NOT EVEN BONES is my most anticipated 2018 YA read (and I say YA because there’s Queen Schwab’s VICIOUS coming out, which is adult). I mean, dissecting monsters and selling them online to shady customers? *crashes though the door to enter dramatically*. I AM SO HERE FOR THIS. Plus, you know, one of the comp titles for this one was Schwab’s This Savage Song, and I mean ... come ON. This is guaranteeing my interest.

And really, this was rather fun. There is a sufficient does of action sequences and moral-questioning and break outs and etc. One of the coolest things ever, too, was the fact that this was set in the Amazon rainforest?? Like, why didn’t anyone tell me this sooner?? I love this.

Nita is a fabulous lead. She’s vulnerable enough for a story this bloody, and her reactions are realistic (<— something that proved no longer a concern to me, because I like my heroines realistically vulnerable, especially with all the body chopping going on). Also, Nita’s talk of how dissecting brings her inner peace did not, in fact, strike me as weird because let me tell you: lab dissections are the most fun activities ever in the hellish things that are college courses. I love ‘em. Yay for dissection appreciation.

The plot went in a direction I hadn’t anticipated. And I don’t mean plot-twist wise. I expected more .. action, a la THIS SAVAGE SONG (also: Kovit felt a bit toooo similar to August with the whole eats pain/eats soul thing? Maybe? Idk.) This was more of a escaping, planning thing, which is fine. It IS a thriller, but without much running and shooting things? More like lock-picking and escaping. Still fun! But not what I expected.

Heads up: this was legit a gore fest. There was ear slicing and toe dicing and skin eating and all sorts of blood galore. And, shockingly, it even bothered ME, and I’m usually not really bothered by blood ‘n guts, honestly. But here? Y’all, I legit nearly threw up. Like, really. So heads up, because when this book says dark, it means dark. It ain’t kidding.

All in all? Fun, hella bloody, and with an ending that just WOAH-ed me. Pass me book two, please and thank you.

Thanks to HMH Teen for the ARC!

First impression : (2017)

Okay, but this legit sounds like everything I look for in a book. And referencing THIS SAVAGE SONG? Hell yes. Gimme.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,572 reviews259 followers
September 3, 2018
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Nita doesn’t murder supernatural beings and sell their body parts on the internet—her mother does that. Nita just dissects the bodies after they’ve been “acquired.” Until her mom brings home a live specimen and Nita decides she wants out; dissecting a scared teenage boy is a step too far. But when she decides to save her mother’s victim, she ends up 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. Now on the other side of the bars, if she wants to escape, Nita must ask herself if she’s willing to become the worst kind of monster.

Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer is a fantastic debut YA fantasy. I didn't know quite what to expect going into this aside from that blurb, but I'm glad I went in nearly blind. It was such a pleasant, refreshing, and unique surprise. Well, when I say that I mean it was intense and bloody and I totally need more. I loved that it's fast-paced and had me on the edge of my seat throughout - I wasn't sure at any point how exactly everything was going to work out. The cast of complex characters, regardless of their species, are fascinating to follow, especially Nita's journey. Her growth as a character is amazing to watch. While I could describe this gritty fantasy as a bit of a slasher story, it also works as an intriguing examination of what it means to be human or monster and how our choices reflect our humanity or lack thereof. Finally, I'd also like to mention the world-building - there isn't a lot in regards to why and how the world is the way it is, but it is still suitably dark and vivid.

Overall, Not Even Bones by Rebecca Shaeffer is a darkly unique debut YA fantasy with a dash of horror. While the world-building was a little underwhelming for me, it makes up for it with it's fabulous character development. You may like this novel if you enjoy Dexter, Stalking Jack the Ripper, and bloody and slightly deranged fantasy. I know I'll be back for the sequel and future projects from this author.

Thanks again, NetGalley!
Profile Image for ac.
625 reviews111 followers
September 3, 2018
First of all, I'd like to thank Hallie over on Twitter for making my #bookishwish come true.

This book is dark and deeply messed up.

This book is billed as Dexter meets This Savage Song. I'm gonna be real with you, I didn't like Dexter and I couldn't get through 20 pages of This Savage Song, but I was very much interested in this book. I like horror and the idea of a teenage girl dissecting corpses her mom brings home is deeply chilling. I don't think I had any idea how much until I got into the book.

We meet Nita. Nita is bright and Nita likes to dissect the corpses of 'unnaturals' The synopsis establishes that she has some empathy for beings, but you wouldn't know that from the first several chapters. She is intrigued by bodies, by how they function, and views her victims as little more than biology lessons. Her mom is a different kind of horror - a woman that instills fear in her own daughter, she brings home a live, human boy one day for Nita to dissect so that his parts can be sold off to the highest bidder. Nita isn't able to cut open a boy with a pulse, so she helps him escape; it's a choice that means Nita and her mother have to run and as they flee, Nita finds herself in a cage.

I really like Nita as a character. Really. She's not self-sacrificing, she doesn't make a bunch of silly decisions and happen to get out of her situation. She spends her time in captivity, in this black market for unnatural body parts, reflecting on the choices she's made to dissect people while also trying to understand her own unnaturalness and how it can be used to help her escape.

This is a book about antiheroes, really. It's about how people are imperfect, but they're still people. It's about understanding your own flaws and understanding that maybe humanity isn't black or white. It's also about choosing who you want to be, even when you feel like other people are choosing for you.

This book is not for the faint of heart. There is gore, there are really questionable choices by people. For me, this book was deeply unsettling, if that's your kind of thing. It's one of those horror novels that for me did make me a little scared (not pop-ups in slashers kind of scared), but it took me to a place where I was rattled. If that's your jam, this book is absolutely for you.

Profile Image for Katherine Moore.
167 reviews45 followers
August 12, 2018
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.

Profile Image for Kathleen Minde.
Author 1 book39 followers
July 26, 2018
When it comes to dark gritty books that push your trigger tolerance to the limit, I am no shrinking violet. Books with topics or events that make you squirm aren't necessarily books to throw away because they went too far, especially if they are well written. But despite a great storyline full of scenes of cringe-worthy violence, what sunk Not Even Bones for me was the writing. The author gave her characters no depth: evil, not evil and antihero appeared to be the only choices available. Many of the violent scenes seemed written for the violence alone; no story advancement, no inner dialogue. It's as if the author bypassed establishing any foundation or world building to go straight for the jugular. And because the story takes place present day but with the existence of unnatural creatures (vampires, unicorns, zannies, just to name a few) that society either accepts or reviles, a few extra pages of world building and exploration would have been helpful.

The main character, Nita, dissects the dead bodies of unnatural creatures that her mother has executed while listening to Disney songs. She lives to dissect, it gives her lonely life purpose. Those are great details that add layers to her character. She has ambivalent thoughts about the latest creature her mother brought home for dissection and cannot help but defy her mother. That gave her another layer. But, other than knowing her mother is a complete psychopath who will do anything for money, we are given little else to go on with their relationship. There's a father remotely involved, I wanted to know more about this part of the dysfunctional family dynamic.

Then there is the violence. Scene after scene of torture, threat of torture, screaming while being tortured, sadism and murder is not layered or complex; it's exasperating. It wears down the reader but not in a way that will not cause them to meditate on their reactions to these scenes. It doesn't thrill or engage your mind. In short, it just got plain redundant. You want torture that is intelligently written, makes you think, and feel ambivalence about the torturer all at the same time? Pick up a copy of Joe Abercrombie's First Law series. Glokta is a character that will make you squirm in your seat in horrified fascination. And Abercrombie has a wicked, clever sense of humor, something utterly lacking in Not Even Bones.

Then there are the choices Nita makes along the way. The forehead-smacking, eye-rolling, what-the-eff kind of choices that don't add to her character, it just makes her look like she failed Critical Thinking 101.

I even tried skimming to see if that would keep me engaged. Nope.

I know my dislike of Not Even Bones barely makes a blip among the hordes of fans raving about this book on Goodreads. It almost makes me wonder what I missed while I was reading. Maybe the book gets better but I tossed it to the DNF pile about one-third of the way through. Too many other books in this universe waiting to be read.
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