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The Butterfly Tattoo Paperback – 8 May 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Paperback, 8 May 1998
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books; New edition edition (8 May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330368567
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330368568
  • Product Dimensions: 11.5 x 1.2 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,279,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Philip Pullman is a highly acclaimed author of books for young people. His Dark Materials: Northern Lights won three awards in 1996; The Firework-Maker's Daughter won the 1996 Smarties Gold Award and Clockwork was shortlisted for the Whitbread Book of the Year 1997. The Butterfly Tattoo is an engrossing and agonising thriller. What starts out as an apparently harmless holiday job for 17-year-old Oxford 'A' level student Chris Marshall, slowly but surely turns into something quite other. Unhappy and traumatised by the break up of his parents' marriage, things start looking up for Chris when he falls in love with the beautiful, emotionally bruised Jenny. But then his boss's dangerously shady past slowly but surely starts catching up with him and before he knows it Chris has become the innocent cause of death and disaster. An ingeniously plotted, simply written and grippingly readable thriller which involves the reader in deep questions about the nature of innocence, criminality and social responsibility. --Tamsin Palmer

Book Description

A tense, romantic thriller by one of the world's greatest children's writers. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on 28 July 2003
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
Like so many, I was enthralled by Pullman's work in the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy (gosh, even though I can't bear that collective title) - this is the only other of his novels I have read that didn't come under the banner of the Lyra/William saga (there was also a spin-off called 'Lyra's Oxford' which I remember enjoying). I haven't read him since, mostly because I didn't want to be further put off by his writing - and so, I thought it would be good to have a less complimentary review on this page to balance it out.

The book is a basic teenage/'young adult' first-love (or lust?) story, although having said that, I haven't read anything else aimed at this market. I borrowed this short novel from a library, and was suitably glad that I didn't buy it; while being a decent enough read, it is mostly cold - even the vaguely romantic scenes are delivered emotionlessly. I remember (it was a while ago) the feeling that Pullman was rattling through the plot, avoiding detail or description, which wasn't a favourable approach for a story of this kind. Also, the 'intriguing' plotting towards the end (after the relationship portion) was quite bland - not that the events themselves were uninteresting, more so that the writing engendered little suspense.

I think this was Pullman's first novel - forgive me if I am incorrect - and therefore I imagine he was still finding his feet in fiction before his truly extraordinary work, like 'His Dark Materials'. If you are interested in Pullman, after his magnum opus, you could try this novel for something a little different - but I wouldn't recommend purchasing it. See if they have it in your library, or don't bother.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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