Tender Is The Flesh | Book Review.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022



Author: Agustina Bazterrica
Genre: Science fiction, Dystopian Fiction

*TRIGGER WARNING a lot of people may find this book to be triggering especially with the subjects it tackles and goes into detail about, if gore is not something you enjoy I do NOT recommend this book. Some triggers include: child loss, gore, cannibalism, slaughter, blood, animal abuse, rape and much more.

Synopsis:

Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans —though no one calls them that anymore.

His wife has left him, his father is sinking into dementia, and Marcos tries not to think too hard about how he makes a living. After all, it happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then governments initiated the “Transition.” Now, eating human meat—“special meat”—is legal. Marcos tries to stick to numbers, consignments, processing.

Then one day he’s given a gift: a live specimen of the finest quality. Though he’s aware that any form of personal contact is forbidden on pain of death, little by little he starts to treat her like a human being. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost—and what might still be saved.


My Thoughts:

Reading a book about the world changing due to a a virus seemed to be an ironic prospect for me, I wasn't aware of what I would end up reading when it came to this book and don't think it's one I would willingly choose to reread. In a world where animal meat is no longer a viable option the next best thing was made legal and available. Thinking about it makes me feel uncomfortable but at the same time the process of what happens is much the same of the meat production around the world. If you haven't already guessed what I'm talking about, the meat humans are now eating is human meat but they're not treated as humans. Cannibalism isn't something that I could ever get on board with, no matter the situation.

There is something about the prospect of eating a human that goes beyond all ethics in my opinion. Unfortunately in this messed up world it's not only a way to provide for people it can also be used as a punishment, the black market is rife with shady dealings especially because human meat is very expensive and people are starving/very poor in the current state of the economy. The author introduces us to Marcos, he has suffered the terrible loss of his baby son and is grieving in his own way, he works at a slaughterhouse yet his job doesn't phase him, for me the horror I felt towards humans being slaughtered and murder not being a thing made me feel sick inside especially with how graphically detailed the book is. Even though he didn't seem phased with what he was doing I felt a sense of pity for him and his trauma and could tell early in there was more to him than meets the eye.


Being lucky enough to live his life the way he chooses (to an extent, there are still laws that could get you slaughtered for meat if you break them) he is just existing in life. It's clear he isn't in the best place and his state of mind isn't great right now but does his job as best as he can. One day something unexpected happens and Marcos is given his own human to do with as he pleases but what would someone even do or how would they even have the heart to have a human in their care slaughtered? The impression I get from this side of Marcos is that he will deal with the issue when he has to but had more important things to worry about.

As time goes on the book made me feel more and more uneasy, reading Marcos go back and forth from work where he slaughters humans to home where he keeps one in a barn and feeds her like she's an animal was heartbreaking. This human woman wasn't capable of speaking not since she had her voice box removed in order to stay silent, she spent her life naked just waiting for the worst to happen to her but Marcos changed all that, he changed her life, he learnt to care for her in more ways than one. Consent is something that is highlighted or found to in this book, when Marcos started a sexual relationship with this woman, on his terms.

I was worried about what Marcos had got himself into and how having a sexual relationship with this person could land him in some deep shit. You're probably wondering why I carried on reading knowing what the book is about, although it's horrible and the author clearly wanted to shock their readers you can't help but sympathise with Marcos at the start due to his situation especially when he is still in mourning. There is a lot to process, Marcos's relationship with his father is one of them. It's very strained but you can tell Marcos is a good man or so I thought, his actions left me confused and asking myself is he doing this to protect himself or because he is a genuinely nice person. Then again the whole way throughout the book the events that take place cross the line and made me realise this isn't a book I would choose to read again but it opened my eyes to a dystopian world I would rather run away from than be apart of. 

The author takes away the ability to gage what Marcos's next move will be which spurred me to want to know what happened in the end but to be honest I would probably choose to avoid reading a sequel to this if there ever was one, the sheer panic and shock I was left with due to the ending has lingered for quiet sometime now and the constant triggers weren't of any help either. However, I'm open to reading books that cross the line to an extent depending on the topic. As someone who gets spooked easily and has bad nightmares I would still keep this to a minimum. If I could compare Tender is the Flesh to anything it would probably be the movie Fresh on Disney+, so if you've read this book and enjoyed it give it a watch.  





Have a cosy day
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