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The Butterfly and the Flame Kindle Edition

5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Length: 416 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Product Details

  • File Size: 606 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: iUniverse; First edition (April 27, 2011)
  • Publication Date: April 27, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0052G7NOS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #980,214 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Above all, this is a novel that speaks to the indomitability of the human spirit. At oft-times, a depressing tale about a world gone wrong and about a child born in the wrong body, who would rather die than live with the "mistake" of nature that has brought misery and pain to her family.

The calamity from space that befell the earth of the 21st Century has caused the US, as we know it, to be gone. Now, in the 25th century, what remains are small groups of people living in a paternalistic, feudal and agrarian society, where discrimination in the form of gender stereotyping, classism, sexism, transphobia and homophobia abound and domestic violence is the norm.

The religious right is in power, with their particular brand of fundamentalism gone wild. In this future time of human suffering and economic depression, people live in a society where the teachings of Christ are often bastardized and a religious-based government, to achieve its own aims, places a diminished value on the sanctity of human life. It is a world where zealots interpret the bible quite literally in the name of power and the promotion of fundamentalism. In this terrible time, torture and violence are the watchword, justified in the name of a righteousness that smacks of the Crusades. Hypocrisy and excesses by the church and the ruling classes abound.

The author tells this complex MacBeth-like tale of family, power, greed and deceit, where good people have a dark side and don't necessarily come to a happy end. And some come to regret making their deal with the devil. And souls are often sold for 30 pieces of silver. You know, I'm not so sure we are that far away from this world right now. So, if you want a little sci-fi, a little violence and a little gender stuff set to an ingenious story, I heartily recommend this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Unless I'm mistaken, this book is self-published through an online publisher. I've been reading a lot of self-published works lately, and more have been bad than good, I'm afraid.

I'm really happy to report that The Butterfly and the Flame by Dana De Young falls into the latter category.

The story follows Emily, a nearly 16 year old girl who has had an arranged marriage with her family's landlord's only son in the books since she was about 7 years old, and her quest for acceptance in a society that's willing to offer pretty much anything but. The setting is 2404, hundreds of years after America as we know it fell into the hands of religious fundamentalists. Technology is all but gone, and North America is by and large run by Christian fundamentalists who adhere to its laws in often arbitrary ways to suit the higher-up's needs (sound familiar? It happens in our society even today in some instances).

Emily and her family are hiding a secret though, one that will end up being revealed to potentially disastrous results if her marriage to Jonathan Marsh goes through. Emily was born biologically male, and is consequently a transwoman, something punishable by death in her society.

This is the first book that I've read in a long while that jumped to multiple points of view, seemingly without rhyme or reason. I thought that would be disconcerting or lessen the impact each point of view made on my overall impression of the book itself. That didn't seem to be the case though, and I found myself really enjoying getting a glimpse into a variety of different characters' minds.

The same went for the alternating time periods from chapter to chapter (particularly in the first half of the book).
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Format: Paperback
The Butterfly and the Flame is a book that's equal parts dystopian fantasy, social commentary, and transgender drama. It's the kind of novel that both enlightens and entertains. Our window into this world is Emily, a fifteen year-old girl who just happens to have been born a boy. Emily's story is an emotional one, a tragic tale that contains just enough hope to make the heartache and the sorrow palatable. She's a wonderfully well-rounded character, but one who is plagued by the dual angst of being a teenager and being transgender.

Dana pulls no punches in exposing us to the depths of human depravity, but doesn't neglect the heights of human goodness either. Love comes from the most barren of places, while it struggles to take root in what should be the most nurturing of environments. There are definitely some surprises along the way, but I daresay the pleasant ones carry a far greater impact, even if they are outnumbered by the unpleasant ones.

As the story shifts from Period drama to something more akin to Wild West action in the final act, we get to experience just enough of the wider world to provide context to the Emily's struggles. The further we get from Emily's Puritanical homestead, the more we realise the world may change, but human nature stays the same. Delicately balancing heroism and tragedy, hope and despair, Dana takes the novel to a satisfying - if somewhat sombre - conclusion that ultimately provides the hope for a better tomorrow.
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