While this wasn’t exactly Jane Eyre meets cannibals, it kind of was. I didn’t love it, but it certainly was fascinating. If I thought people (read: more responsible adults than me) wouldn’t stroke out, I would assign it next year to be read after Jane Eyre — it would certainly be more interesting than any other comparison assignment I’ve ever given. The tone is too serious for me to recommend it to fans of Warm Bodies, but if you can stomach people eating other people, this is really rather intriguing.
Maren has a little problem. Whenever she gets that loving feeling, she wants to devour the person. Literally. She eats them. After hiding her daughter’s “affliction” for sixteen years, Maren’s mom abandons her. Alone and confused, Maren’s sets out to find the father she’s never met and the answers she’s always wanted. Think classic coming of age story with a twisted protagonist. The epiphany, in particular, was rather surprising and a nice climax for the plot line. Maren’s basic internal conflicts are mostly about a taboo, but on a larger scale, they are the conflicts that anyone who has been abandoned faces. I think that is what really is horrifying — all the ways that someone so inhuman and distasteful still has strong vestiges of humanity that allow the average person to relate to her. Maren does horrifying things, but she does pedestrian things as well — neatly tied plastic bags of “leftovers” are a haunting and an intensely vivid bit of imagery because they are so practical and normal. Who doesn’t use those bags and tie them that way? This wasn’t a terribly exciting or action packed book, but there was real tension anytime someone got close to Maren, and I found myself holding my breath until I knew if she would or would not resist. There were some flaws, especially with the subplot involving Sully, which I thought was the strangest part of all. I also was left with a mixed message. What I got from the ending and what I got from the author’s notes were two different things — I enjoyed it more without the author’s commentary. I’m not sure who I would recommend this book to, but, hey, there’s somebody for everybody, and I figure that is true of books as well. The language and situations are appropriate for high school readers, but I think the strong taboo associated with cannibalism would raise objections from parents and administrators. This book isn’t for everyone, but it certainly gave me a lot to think about.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.