The Savages by Matt Whyman
Published: 6 June 2013 (Hot Key Books)
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Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
They'd love to have you for dinner . . .
Sasha Savage is in love with Jack - a handsome, charming ... vegetarian. Which wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for the fact that Sasha's family are very much 'carnivorous'. Behind the family facade all is not as it seems. Sasha's father rules his clan with an iron fist and her mother's culinary skills are getting more adventurous by the day. When a too-curious private detective starts to dig for truths, the tight-knit family starts to unravel - as does their sinister taste in human beings . . .
I bought this book to take to Leakycon where Matt Whyman was one of the guests. The Savages follows the Savage family who have a taste for a eating humans, as eldest daughter Sasha breaks away from family tradition and becomes a vegetarian.
Whilst I was at Leakycon, everyone was referring to this book as "the cannibal book" and that's probably the easiest way to describe and remember it! The fact The Savages are cannibals isn't something that's outrageous or shocking in this book, it's just a normal part of everyday life for The Savage family which is what makes this book a real joy to read and not something totally terrifying!
There was a lot to love about this book, but the characters were by far the best part. The Savage family are bizarre and hilarious, and each character has something unique that really draws you to them and the dynamic between the group was fantastic. For me, my favourite character was Sasha, whose about turn to vegetarianism in support of her boyfriend Jack becomes the backbone of the story. I loved that she's a teenager who's trying to carve out her own identity and discover herself, and despite the ridiculousness of the central story, her desire to express herself and become independent was one any young person will be able to relate to.
Then there's Ivan, Sasha's younger brother who is your typical boy prankster. His intelligence and sharp tongue really made me laugh, despite the fact he lands himself in hot water a lot when his pranks go dangerously wrong. He's obviously striving for a bit of attention and recognition. Baby Katya added some hilarity to the story too.
I liked the way the story was narrated. There's a sort of omnipresent narrator so we get to flit between each of the characters in the Savage family. I really liked the way it was done and the movement between each character was fluid and seamless. We also get an outsiders perspective, for example we get the point of view of Vernon, a private detective trailing Titus Savage to see what he's up to.
The narration also flashed forwards at points to give you a hint at what was to come, which is something I don't always like in a book, but which worked well in this case. It really piqued my attention. There's also this constant reference to baby Katya's first "feast" which is something that drives the plot forwards because it feels like that's what the book is working towards.
The Savages is quite a short book and a light, quick read but it provides plenty of drama and fun. The twists at the end took me completely by surprise so I couldn't put it down. It sounds a bit weird to say this, but one of the first words about the book that popped into my head as I was reading was "charming" and then I wondered if it was a bit weird to call a book about cannibals charming. But I'll stick with it. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for something a little bit different!
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