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4.1 out of 5 stars18
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 5 July 2005
This is a re-issue of an early Pullman novel, previously titled The White Mercedes. I hadn't read previously read it, but I saw the reviews for this and decided to check it out as a possible class text with EFL students. It has the Pullman trademark prose voice, a very matter of fact style, but layered with imagery and pulling no punches. It is a neatly devised plot and a moving story, but as a previous reviewer has noted, it is not a children's book. Teenagers of 14-18 will enjoy it, but younger readers need to be aware that it is quite an adult book. The book is cool, chilling and speedy to read.
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on 19 December 2003
When I read this book I thought it was brilliant. Philip Pullman is a spectacular storyteller and in my opinion this is one of his best. Did you know that this was one of his first books published? Whenever I mention it to my friends they say they have never heard of it and many people haven't as it is no way near as famous at 'His Dark Materials Trilogy, but just as good. Yes, the ending may be slightly predictable but that should not put you off reading it, it is compelling and beautiful. One of my favourite books of all time.
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on 30 December 2005
Another unputdownable and evocative read in my ever-expanding collection of Phillip Pullman books. He fails to disappoint yet again.
The opening line leaves you in no doubt that this is another emotional page-turner set in one of Phillip Pullman’s many beautiful Oxfords’.
The Butterfly Tattoo, set in modern Oxford, tackles difficult issues through a story of love and innocence. The storyline is a little predictable but it allows you to focus on the key points being explored through the main characters, modern issues such as divorce, abuse and mistrust.
It’s not fighting for the top spot in my book collection but it definitely is a must read for Pullman fans.
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on 16 November 2005
I don't understand what anyone's problem is with this not being a children's book - Pullmann is a great writer, and I believe he writes what comes to him, whatever the audience. I hate labelling authors as "children" or "adult", and I don't recall big red letters on the cover saying "for under 10 only".
In any case, the book is good, not a lasting masterwork of fiction, for that the end is somewhat unpolished - but I should note that that is only in comparison with his brilliant later work. It is definitely worth reading.
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on 28 July 2003
Having been thrilled by the Dark Materials Trilogy, I thought I would introduce my daughter (aged 9 and an avid reader) to Philip Pullman, as he is essentailly a children's author. I read the book first to check it was suitable for her and would most certainly classify this as an adult novel. Whilst it is a brilliantly written and is a clever story (albeit with a slightly predictable ending) I would not allow a child to read it. It has a bit of mild teenage sex and the overall tone it is too dark for children.
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on 29 May 2001
I loved every page of this book, i read it before i read his dark materials and i was transfixed by yet another of philip pullmans complex plots. However, i did find the plot slightly predictable, but it was still really really good. This book was originally called the white mercedes so you might have read it already.
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on 23 October 2000
The Butterfly Tattoo is just the most tragic, frustrating, HEARTbreaking book I have ever read. I was crying my eyes out for Jenny at the end. Even so, it's really well-written if not a bit slow at times. I'd reccomend it to anyone who likes being seriously depressed.
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VINE VOICEon 19 May 2008
Fans of Pullman's trilogy should receive a fair warning before moving any further. This is not Lyra's Oxford, this is our Oxford so expect thugs, sex, crime but also love, trust and friendship.
Pullman retells the story of Romeo and Juliet with extreme adroitness. He manages to keep the lyrical beauty and truth of the play and avoids desperate attempts of retaining any elements that would seem dated and out of place in a modern novel.
This is a novel for younger adults but if you feel that your 13+ year olds have never heard about sex, you may need to read it first yourself. The danger is you may get hooked on Pullman seriously.
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on 9 May 2014
My daughter is 10 and is an avid reader. I borrowed this book from the library as I have read The Dark Trilogy and think Pullman is an excellent writer. She read The Butterfly Tattoo in just over a day and returned it to me with the comment: "I didn't like this at all, I think it's going to haunt me." I thought I would do a quick skim read to see what she was referring to and was shocked to find so many dark themes: child sex abuse, IRA terrorism, murder, attempt rape ... I am angry that this book was displayed in the same area as the picture books in the library. This is definitely a book which should be read by 14+
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on 18 June 2016
The Butterfly Tattoo is completely different from the other books by Pullman that I have read and loved, which are Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. No parallel universes, dæmons or witches in this one. But I loved it nevertheless, and it is one of the books that will remain engraved on my memory.

The story revolves around two young people, Chris and Jenny, who fall in love but are separated by fate soon after. They try to find each other again, but – as it is announced in the opening sentence of the book – it ends with the tragic death of Jenny.

Because of the first sentence, I knew it was a tragedy, and to spare my feelings I tried not to get too involved with the main characters, but it was impossible. Their budding love, their doubts about what the other is feeling, their aching for each other and their vulnerability are described with such sensibility and delicacy that I couldn’t help slipping into Chris’ and Jenny’s heads and hoping, against all odds, that they would find each other again.

It is an extremely sad story, not only because of the untimely death of the young girl. I knew from Pullman’s other books that he doesn’t shun death and sorrow, but The Butterfly Tattoo is much darker and more pessimistic. It is comparable to The Amber Spyglass in its theme (the Fall of Man) and ending (the irrevocable separation of the young lovers), but the tone is completely different. The Fall in the Amber Spyglass is a beautiful discovery: the main characters fall in love for the first time, and the person acting as the “Snake” is a brave, kind woman who loves them both. The final separation, although emotional and heart wrenching, is also a necessary condition for both characters to live a full life. In The Butterfly Tattoo, the Fall is the discovery that the world is full of deceit and lies. The Snake is a cold blooded, cynical murderer. The separation is the death of the loved one. And to make it even crueller, the only thing that gives Chris a little solace at the end is the delusional belief that Jenny’s last thought was about her father because she loved him (while in reality she was abused by him as a child). This utterly bleak conclusion, this outlook on the grown-up world, contrasted with the beautiful, fragile hopes and dreams of the young lovers, is so harrowing that I’m still haunted by the book, now several days after I read it.
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