Review Blog

Jul 29 2014

American Savage by Matt Whyman

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Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN 9781471400698.
In this sequel to The Savages the family has moved to the US to avoid discovery of their cannibalism. Mother, Angelica has become a fitness fanatic while father Titus is putting on weight - 'it is inevitable that meat sourced from these parts would carry a little extra fat' p11. Son Ivan tries to fit in by joining the football team at school but he is not good at it and is being bullied while the vegan lodger Amanda is having trouble finding work. The other members of this tight knit family are the kindy aged Katya and grandfather Oleg all of whom have strong family values - 'a family who ate people together stayed together' p44. The cannibalism is explained as sustainable, there being too many humans on the planet, and targeted, only loners who no-one would miss. Slaughtering is done humanely and the meat respectfully eaten. The vegan character does not have a problem eating human as it complies with all her food principles. No horror here but somehow more disturbing. Ivan looked at his bullies 'not as empty jocks but as tender cuts' p87 Angelica's decision when her personal trainer becomes enamoured is to direct Titus to make him the next victim as he would be leaner than their usual meat.
I found the characters' ordinariness and the cannibalism over-explained and the plot hampered by this. There is some compromise found in the end but the story struggled to engage. Middle school students might like the idea of such a family and extreme problem solving. I doubt they would find the moral aspect an issue.
Sue Speck

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