Sunday, October 5, 2014

Butterfly Skin

Ksenia is manager of an online news website in Russia. She's very ambitious and professional at work, but in her personal time, her interests are much different, preferring to be dominated and harmed during sex. A serial killer is on the loose who rapes, mutilates, tortures, and murders young women. To further her career, Ksenia creates a site dedicated to the serial killer to address public interest that includes psychological studies, links to other websites, information on each murder, and message boards. At first it's just business, but she develops a fixation with the murders and even meets an online lover in the message boards who isn't who he seems.

The description of the book on Amazon is very misleading and this book shares almost nothing with The Silence of the Lambs. Every few chapters are from the point of view of the serial killer. He describes how he kills the women, his theories on how he came to be that way, his frustration (sexual and otherwise), his history, and his feelings. A few of the chapters are in a more poetic form and focuses on images (of the grisly variety) and feelings. It's grisly, rather descriptive, and  I liked these chapters and found them the most interesting parts of the story even though they were few and far between. You get right in the serial killers head and see what makes him tick. He's pretty abhorrent, but does realize what he is doing is wrong. The only other enjoyable part is the unexpected ending.

The majority of the book is populated by interchangeable characters that blur together. I didn't like the language used in these chapters because it was unnecessarily repetitive (which was a style issue) and it just felt stilted and unnatural (which may have been a translation issue). Some of the idioms didn't really make sense or seemed made up or just very dated. The characters have a lot of weird hangups about sex. Ksenia's preference for BDSM sex is labeled as abnormal and dangerous. Even "normal" sex is treated with a very repressed attitude by all the characters. There were a lot of abrupt and disorienting jumps in time from present to past and back again. These chapters were a slog to get through and dull as a whole. It only gets interesting when Ksenia and the serial killer's paths cross.

Butterfly Skin is disappointing and mostly dull. It might have been a translation issue, but the serial killer chapters were even written in a much more natural style. Not a big fan. I would recommend it.

My rating: 2/5

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