Sunday, January 25, 2015

REVIEW: All the Butterflies in the World / Rodney Jones

TITLE: All the Butterflies in the World
AUTHOR: Rodney Jones
AVAILABILITY: Purchase links on publisher's website (click here)

Young Adult - Time Travel Romance

Full disclosure: I'm a fellow Red Adept Publishing author, and the below reflects my honest opinions.

All the Butterflies in the World is the sequel to Rodney Jones's YA time travel romance, The Sun, The Moon, and Maybe the Trains. In the first book, John Bartley, an earnest 18-year-old from 1875 Vermont, accidentally wanders through a time warp that lands him in 2009, where he meets the spunky 17-year-old Tess McKinnon. A romance blossoms, but ends tragically from John's perspective with Tess's death at the hands of a corrupt sheriff. But from Tess's perspective, none of this ever happened – all she knows is that there's an old-fashioned bum on her doorstep claiming to know her, since another time warp landed John back in the moment before he met Tess in the first place. And that's where Butterflies begins.

Alternating between Tess's and John's perspectives, Butterflies is part sci-fi with the time travel, part historical fiction (about half the book takes place in 1875), part romance, and all entertaining. John is, of course, overjoyed that the girl he loves is still alive, and yet the reunion is bittersweet, since she doesn't remember him at all. Tess, meanwhile, isn't sure what to believe. Her first reaction is that her best friend, Liz, sent John to prank her. But even though she doesn't believe he's a time traveler, she finds his good-natured personality charming and decides to help him find his way around the modern world. The two grow close all over again, and the contrast between John's good-boy earnestness and Tess's sassy-girl snarkiness is fun to watch.

When John, in an attempt to prove his story, looks over old newspapers from 1875, he discovers that his uncle was wrongfully hanged for Tess's murder and decides he has to go back to fix the past. After he fails to return, Tess looks over the papers again and discovers that history has changed – this time, John was hanged, since he was discovered burying Tess's body. Tess isn't about to stand by and let that happen, though, and decides to go through the time warp herself to set things right once and for all.

Butterflies is a charming little story of young love featuring two sympathetic protagonists readers will easily connect with. John is instantly likable, and I, for one, was glad to see the good boy featured in a YA romance for a change. No brooding or tantrums here – John actually seems like he would make a good boyfriend (and the kind most mothers would approve of). Tess falls more into the love-her-or-hate-her category, with her sarcasm and smart-aleck quips. In other words, she acts like a typical American teenager in the 21stcentury. But underneath it all, she's a compassionate and courageous girl willing to risk it all for the boy she loves, yet smart enough to go in prepared. One of the things I liked best about her was her intelligence – she's an interesting combination of teenage bravado and more mature reasoning. Readers who found her abrasive in the first book will probably like her better in the second, since her perspective adds more depth to her snarkiness.

I loved Sun Moon Trains, and I was overjoyed when I learned that Jones was writing a sequel. And Butterflies doesn't disappoint. It's fun and amusing, sweet and often profound. So do yourself a favor and pick up both books if you haven't already (and why haven't you? Look at those gorgeous covers!).


While a past resident of Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, New York, and Vermont, Rodney now resides in Indiana, where he whiles away his days pecking at a laptop, riding his ten-speed up the Cardinal Greenway, taking long walks with his daughter, or backpacking and wilderness camping.

His list of past occupations reads like his list of past residences, though his life-long ambition was to be an artist until he discovered a latent affinity for writing.

“In art,” Rodney says, “I was constantly being asked to explain images constructed from a palette of emotions and ideas, which usually required complex narratives to convey their meaning, if there even was a meaning. In writing, the words are creating the images, images are telling a story, the story is evoking feelings. I like it. There’s nothing to explain.”

Rodney’s interests include: art, science, politics, whiskey and chocolate, music (collecting vinyl records), gardening, and travel.


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