The second I read the blurb for The Savages I knew I had to get my hands on the book. Cannibalistic family? Vegetarian boyfriend? Dark comedy? What else does a reader need?
The Savages tells the story of the Savage family, perfectly ordinary in every sense but they have a secret. A predilection for a certain taboo delicacy on special occasions. When Sasha Savage, the teenage daughter, reveals her latest boyfriend is a vegetarian, the family’s way of life comes under threat. I don’t want to spoil the plot too much for anyone who hasn’t read it but The Savages is a brilliantly dark comedy that fans of Matt Haig’s The Radleys, Hannibal and will find a lot to love in. The balance between domestic drama and dark cannibalistic humour is well done and really makes the book stand out amongst other YA.
While this is a book about a family of cannibals, there is a lot that is relatable in The Savages. The character of Sasha Savage was very well-written and her conflict between her family and boyfriend is something many teenage girls may relate to. The pressure Jack also puts on her to convert to vegetarianism is also an interesting factor and could even be seen as offering a parallel to the pressure placed on having sex. I think that if we take this allegory as well, it does make the evangelical vegetarianism Jack preaches more palatable. As a former vegetarian myself, my one gripe with this book was the way Jack and other vegetarians were portrayed as being desperate to convert others and very prejudiced. I certainly never went around trying to convert people and judging them for eating meat as it was their choice. If we do take this treatment in the book as symbolising peer pressure and sex then it might explain this a little.
I loved Whyman’s narrative style and the way The Savages was told in the aftermath of all the drama. The almost documentary or expose style of the book really contributed to the feel of the novel. Whyman’s brand of dark humour is something I haven’t seen in much YA and it’s great to see it used here as it I am a particular fan of this type of comedy.
I definitely recommend this book to fans of The Radleys and Hannibal. Dark, funny and sometimes quite uncomfortable, this book is definitely one of a kind.
The Savages is available to buy now. I received a free review copy from Hot Key Books for my honest review. As ever, how I receive a book does not affect the tone or content of my review.