Cover of the text, "Tenders is the Flesh," by Agustin Bazterrica. Photo by Haley Moore (WordPress).

BOOK REVIEW: Echo reviews “Tender to the Flesh”

February 16, 2024

“Tender is the Flesh” is a dystopian, horror novel about a world where a strange virus has contaminated all animal meat and humans must eat other humans to survive. We follow a man named Marco who works at a meat processing plant and must take care of the head assigned to him.

My Review

Tender is the Flesh is a gripping, unforgiving, and dark dystopian-horror novel. The story follows Marcos, a man who works at a meat processing plant and recently lost his infant son. As far as complex characters go, Marcos is a puzzle. Throughout the novel, Marcos seems disgusted by cannibalism and the government itself.

I kind of felt sorry for Marcos because after his son died, Marcos and his wife became extremely distant from one another. His father is suffering from Dementia and is in a retirement home. His sister is oblivious to the world and she’s a “sheep.” As his job, he had to slaughter human beings to be consumed.

Marcos had everything going against him. I truly felt sorry for him. In this novel, the term “head” refers to humans who are going to be slaughtered. These people are bred specifically just to be slaughtered. They can’t speak or even think properly for themselves.

But when it came to his assigned head, my opinion shifted. Marcos was assigned a female head to get ready to slaughter. He named her Jasmin and it seemed like he was falling in love with her. When he got her pregnant alarm bells started going off in my head. Marcos raped Jasmin. She couldn’t speak or defend herself. That is when my judgment on Marcos began to shift.

Towards the end of the novel, we start to see Marcos’s true feelings towards Jasmin. Marcos’s hard exterior is starting to crack due to his father’s death and his sister’s incompetence. When Jasmin gives birth, Marcos gets his wife to help him deliver the baby.

When the baby was born, Marcos knocked Jasmin out and took her to the back to be slaughtered. His wife was upset because they could’ve used her to produce more children, but Marcos tells her that Jasmin had the “human look of a domesticated animal.” Marcos used his position of power to get what he wanted.

In my Creative Nonfiction class, we were reading a story about wine vineyards, war, guilt, and history. My professor made a good point; when we consume food, we consume history. The ground the food was grown in, the water, the farmers that tend the crops, all food we consume has a history.

So this story, made me think of all the humans they consumed and what they were like. Did they have hopes and dreams? What were their personalities like? Did they know what was going on? It was definitely an emotional read for me. Humans are products of their environments and they do what they have to do to survive. Marcos exemplifies this. He is a product of his environment. Even though he is disgusted by how the government is, he eventually succumbs to it.

Score

6.5/10: This was definitely a hard read for me due to the graphic material. I understood where this was going but in the end, it didn’t fall through for me.

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Cover of the text, "Tenders is the Flesh," by Agustin Bazterrica. Photo by Haley Moore (WordPress).
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Cover of the text, "Tenders is the Flesh," by Agustin Bazterrica. Photo by Haley Moore (WordPress).
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