The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison

ButterflyCluesTitle: The Butterfly Clues

Author: Kate Ellison

Genre: Mystery

Publisher: EgmontUSA

Pages: 325

Rating: 3.5/5

Penelope (Lo) Marin has always loved to collect beautiful things. Her dad’s consulting job means she’s grown up moving from one rundown city to the next, and she’s learned to cope by collecting (sometimes even stealing) quirky trinkets and souvenirs in each new place–possessions that allow her to feel at least some semblance of home.

But in the year since her brother Oren’s death, Lo’s hoarding has blossomed into a full-blown, potentially dangerous obsession. She discovers a beautiful, antique butterfly pendant during a routine scour at a weekend flea market, and recognizes it as having been stolen from the home of a recently murdered girl known only as “Sapphire”–a girl just a few years older than Lo. As usual when Lo begins to obsess over something, she can’t get the murder out of her mind.

As she attempts to piece together the mysterious “butterfly clues,” with the unlikely help of a street artist named Flynt, Lo quickly finds herself caught up in a seedy, violent underworld much closer to home than she ever imagined–a world, she’ll ultimately discover, that could hold the key to her brother’s tragic death.

(note: this was originally a mini-review, thus its shortness)

Wow, I feel like this book could have been so interesting but it just wasn’t. The only reason it got the rating that it did, and not a lower one, was because I thought the mystery itself was interesting enough to allow it. Other than that, the whole thing just didn’t work for me. The main character obviously had mental issues, but that wasn’t the problem – mental issues should be explored more in YA books, so those suffering can feel like they’re probably represented in books. This book, however, didn’t seem to handle the mental issues well. There were times when the protagonist, Lo, put her life in danger because of her little ‘quirks,’ which seemed to be the result of extreme OCD or some other disorder. Even when people acknowledged that she had a problem, they never seemed to do anything about it, and by the end of the book I feel like the love interest was practically enabling her to continue without getting her help. He found the things she did “cute,” despite the fact that she could have been seriously hurt or even killed because of them. I think it’s good that the protagonist had these issues and people didn’t think less of her as a result, but in the end I think she needed help that no one seemed willing to give her.
Mainly because of that issue, I had trouble caring about Lo. She was distant from her parents, oftentimes completely paranoid about small stuff but less cautious when she should have been, and her obsession with finding the killer got her into ridiculous scenarios, such as a her “job” in a dance club despite her many issues, which I believe included some self-esteem issues. I wanted to find out what had happened in the main mystery, but I didn’t really care to find out with Lo as my detective. I feel like if there had been a different protagonist, or her issues were properly addressed by the end of the book, then I might have liked it better. As it was, this book left me mostly disappointed.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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