Butter by Erin Jade Lange
"A lonely obese boy everyone calls "Butter" is about to make history. He is going to eat himself to death-live on the Internet-and everyone is invited to watch. When he first makes the announcement online to his classmates, Butter expects pity, insults, and possibly sheer indifference. What he gets are morbid cheerleaders rallying around his deadly plan. Yet as their dark encouragement grows, it begins to feel a lot like popularity. And that feels good. But what happens when Butter reaches his suicide deadline? Can he live with the fallout if he doesn't go through with his plans?"- summary from Amazon
Let me start off by saying that this will be a long review, so buckle in. It will also be a tad spoilery so keep an eye out for that too.
Alright, let me also get this out of the way: I really liked this book. I just want to make this clear from the get-go, so you aren't confused while reading the rest of the review. It's not that I'll be making bad comments about the book, but I will be raising issues and discussions, which I think this book was meant to do.
There are probably two main things to discuss; the first being the extreme morbid fascination his classmates have once Butter puts up the website. It caused me to go "WOAH" while reading at the comments made both on the site and to Butter in person. I do think though that there's this combination of teenage immortality as well as not really grasping the consequences of doing something you say you're going to do. I feel like no one really grasped the consequences until Butter actually did it and they were watching it.
Also, I did a google search and did find a few articles about people committing suicide on webcam for people. I also feel like I read a book with a similar concept (either actual suicide or just choking themselves to get a high or something), which if anyone knows what it is, please tell me because it has been bothering me SO MUCH.
Anyway, the second part is this scene with a psychiatrist who reads out loud to Butter some of the comments left on his website by his classmates to get him to realize that they aren't his friends and they were really just bullying him. I had read a comment by awesome blogger Steph Su on Goodreads about this particular scene before getting to it. She vehemently didn't like it (because apparently it went against some code of conduct or something) and I saw no problem with it. The comments had already been read by him, so it wasn't anything new. Plus, it worked. I felt like that was really the only way to get him to realize how his classmates were really treating him. The psychiatrist also makes a comment about Butter's weight loss that Steph thinks is condoning starving yourself and losing weight quickly, but I didn't see it that way either. I saw it as a joke, not condoning or disapproving.
Oh, there's actually a third part where Steph and I disagreed and it was toward the end and it involved Tucker, Butter's friend from fat camp. Personally, I didn't see anything bad about the exchange, but she did.
Talking more specifically about the book, I really enjoyed Butter's voice and his interactions with various characters. Lange wrote him with a very compelling and realistic voice that made me want to read more and see how things turned out. I think another reason why I liked this book is because I'm hard to offend; not that it's necessarily offensive, but I just go with the flow. I will say that there's not a whole lot of character development but I feel like that's because Butter doesn't really get to know anybody. He's by himself and doesn't really open up to people, even when he becomes popular. There's still this disconnect between him and other people.
Overall, definitely a book to pick up and discuss. I have this feeling that this novel will either be loved or hated by its readers. I don't think there will be a middle ground, but I do hope it brings about discussions regarding important issues, like obesity, bullying (both in person and cyber), among other things. If anyone's read the book (or not), feel free to leave a comment and agree or disagree with my thoughts. I'd love to have a discussion about this book, especially with people who made it through this entire review, lol. Comments are moderated, but I will be approving each one.
FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.