Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the commerce 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 approximately 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.

So, here’s the thing. Had the protagonist not been a man, this could have been an excellent book. Or, had the entire story been a short story, instead of a fully-fledged book, it could have also been an excellent book. Either way, at its current form, I found myself liking the idea of the story more than the actual story itself.

I hated Marcos. I hated being in his head, I found him extremely hypocritical, judgmental, and self-centered. Was he supposed to be so? Certain, but that doesn’t mean I had to like him. I did not enjoy my time with him, and his thought process and decision-making was so often infuriating that I did consider putting the book down.

I also thought that both the idea and the overall execution of the book would have fitted the format of a short story better. Let’s just say that protagonists that grey, environments that bleak, and that many questions left unanswered often function better as a short story, one that you know from the get-go is not going to provide you with all the answers you seek.

It was by no means a not good book – it’s just that it could have been excellent. After reading A Certain Hunger and watching Fresh this weekend, this book certainly fit into the various aspects of cannibalism in media I seem to be drawn to lately, but I have to confess I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Let me rephrase: I didn’t care for it as much as I thought I would. I thought I would terrified, and disgusted, and horrified – instead, most of the time, I just wanted to punch Marcos in his mouth.

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