A Review of Not Even Bones by Rabecca Schaeffer

Not Even Bones is the first book in the Market of Monsters Trilogy by Rebecca Schaeffer. It is set on an Earth where creatures of legend exist and are called “Unnaturals”. The book follows a girl named Nita whose mother brings her monsters for her to dissect in order to sell their body parts on the black market. 

One day her mother brings home a live person, and Nita refuses to dissect him. In her effort to save him, Nita gets sold to the black market. While she is there, she works toward her escape with methods becoming increasingly more extreme. In the end, she escapes, but she makes many sacrifices to do it. 

Schaeffer’s  characters are well-rounded and the book does an excellent job of exploring the different ways that morals and opinions of what is right and wrong can vary and change. Nita goes through the realization of what she actually believes along with a thorough and rational analysis of why she makes the decisions she does. This offers a very different perspective from most books as the main character is not inherently “good” and becomes increasingly morally ambiguous. 

The plot feels very well thought out and it introduces the reader to the underworld right away through Nita’s mother, which sets up the rest of the plot to go more naturally as there is no forced introduction to the underworld. The “bad guys” in the story don’t act in ways that seem unexpected or exaggerated. They don’t suddenly have a change of heart and do unexplained good out of nowhere, and they don’t act in a way that feels overly evil just for the sake of the story. This allows the criminal setting of the plot to continue freely without seeming either too good and clean or too harsh and gritty. 

The criminal element and the shifting normals of the characters means there is a fair bit of violence and gore, but this is done well as it is not overly descriptive or thorough but it does not shy away from the scenes. The placing and timing of the violence goes well with the story and exemplifies Nita’s descent into darker measures without seeming too much or random. 

This book is in a trilogy; therefore, it does end more open-endedly and without answering some questions at the end of the book, but these are explored and answered along with more background of the characters in the next books. So while some character explanations could elicit questions or be a little glossed over, they will be explored in the other two books in the trilogy. 

All in all, the books are very well written and the only problem could be the genre of crime/supernatural/thriller. But if you like dark supernatural or fantasy, this book is definitely worth a read.