Tender is the Flesh
Author: Agustina Bazterrica
Narrator: Joseph Balderrama
Published: August 4, 2020
Audiobook: 6 hours 44 minutes
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To: September 27-29, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the business 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 about 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.
This is a novella at just over 200 pages or 4.5 hours long for the audiobook and it packs a punch the entire time! I had read some about it so I hoped I had mentally prepared myself for it: and that worked! Tender is the Flesh is definitely not for everyone: It is not for the squeamish. It is extremely gory, brutal, yet also thought provoking. It also brings up a lot of emotions just because of the topic: Humans being bred, farmed, and processed as animals once were.
There are trigger warnings for just about everything: Be fair warned this would also be some spoilers, but I knew about these and didn’t feel like I was spoiled:
Gore and violence
Mistreatment of humans
What can happen to pregnant ‘women’ (mentioned in detail)
**Please note that I was most relieved to know about the animal instance because if I had not known, I don’t know how I would have reacted. It was still exceedingly tough to listen to and I very nearly skipped over that part. But I can say I did make it through. Let’s just say if I had not known in advance about this short section I would have wanted John Wick to make an appearance in the book!
In this dystopian world, a virus has spread across all animals worldwide and humans can no longer eat them. If they eat animals then humans will die. Now Cannibalism is mainstream and legal. Eating human meat is called “special meat”. We have Marcos our main character who works in a processing plant, so we see first-hand how humans have become our meat source. This could be considered slow moving, but Bazterrica seemingly covered every detail for her readers in regards to this world. Marcos wife has left him, and he works at the plant to earn money for his ailing father.
One day he is unexpectedly/illegally given a ‘gift’ of a female FGP (First Generation Pure), the most expensive kind there is. Marcos at first doesn’t know what to do with her. This is in essence the book. We have multiple instances of cannibalism described which left much to be desired for this listener. So much of this book was hard to swallow, but it was like a train wreck: Once I started it I couldn’t stop! I wanted to see what was going to happen, though I had an idea of what was going to happen about halfway through and that thought ended up being correct. What was mean for shock value at the end was not for me because I had it figured out. (Dang it- I hate it when I figure out the big twist!)
This novella is thought provoking in so many ways: Would YOU eat human meat!?!? Could you bring yourself to do it? How far has mankind fallen for Cannibalism to be so mainstream and not a big deal at all? Thinking these kinds of things can cause you to just lose your appetite.
There was one small side story that was abandoned I would have love to see expanded on: A conspiracy theory exists that the virus was faked by the governments so society could devolve and ease overpopulation. Maybe this small mention would be for a sequel? If that came to pass, yes I would read it!
The narrator is Joseph Balderrama and he did a fantastic job! There were a few humorous parts in the novel which I didn’t expect. He really brought Marcos to life for me. Just because of the general topic, this book must have been a challenge to narrate.
Will I read Tender is the Flesh again? No. Am I glad I listened to it? Yes. If you think you might want to read this one, please take heed of everything I said in this review. I only gave it four stars because I figured out the ‘shocking ending’ otherwise it would have been 5 stars. This is a book that will definitely stay with you after you have finished it.
Forgive Me Not
Author: Jennifer Baker
Published: August 15, 2023
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 30-August 19, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
All it took was one night and one bad decision for fifteen-year-old Violetta Chen-Samuels’ life to go off the rails. After driving drunk and causing the accident that kills her little sister, Violetta is incarcerated. As a juvenile offender, her fate is in the hands of those she’s wronged—her family. With their forgiveness, she could go home. But without it? Well…
Denied their forgiveness, Violetta is now left with two options, neither good—remain in juvenile detention for an uncertain sentence or participate in the Trials, potentially regaining her freedom and what she wants most of all, her family’s love. But the Trials are no easy feat and in the quest to prove her remorse, Violetta is forced to confront not only her family’s pain, but her own—and the question of whether their forgiveness is more important than forgiving herself.
Forgive Me Not is a YA novel with a bit of dystopian touches that shows the problems the juvenile justice system (and also our adult system) has in regards to sexism, racism, classism, and more.
We have two povs: Violetta and Vince. They are siblings and Violetta (also called Letta) made a huge life changing error: She did some underage drinking and driving. There was an accident and she killed her seven year old sister in the process. Therefore Letta is in detention. The chapter’s from Letta’s pov include how many days she has been in detention. Vince’s pov shows how many days since Letta has been in detention. This was we have two povs: The ‘victim’ and the ‘offender’.
In this world that both Violetta and Vince live in, underage offenders serve in detention while they await their sentencing. This sentencing comes from the victim/ family of the victim. The choices the victim’s side has:
Serve hard time upstate
‘The Trials’ where the offender has to prove themself.
In Violetta’s case she is the offender and her family is the victim with the loss of her little sister. With the two povs we get to see both sides of the story: ‘offender’ and ‘victim’.
There are so many issues dealt with in this story. In addition to the issues with the justice system which we see extreme injustices with one particular character we also experience drug use/abuse, peer pressure, LGBTQ representation and a variety of family dynamics.
Vince seems to be the ‘dream child’ to his parents, but he is far from perfect himself with a variety of problems of his own. Some of these issues are left open even though we do have a reasonable conclusion.
I highly anticipated ‘The Trials’ and what was going to happen. The family of the ‘victim’ chooses the type of trial(s) the ‘offender’ goes through but not what the Trial is made up of. Everyone’s Trial is different and had no idea what to expect for Violetta. This is where the dystopian elements come in to play. Could this possibly be what juvenile offenders deal with in the not to distant future?Overall, this is a powerful book that will be the cause of discussions and more. Will Violetta’s family be able to forgive her for what she did? Even more so, can Violetta forgive herself with the decisions she made that changed so much.
Many thanks to the publisher for granting me a copy to read and review via Bookish First.[Top]
Author: M Hendrix
Narrator: Laura Knight Keating
Published: June 6, 2023
Audiobook: 6 Hours 45 minutes/ 448 Pages
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To/Read: June 26-29 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 4.5 stars
Like every young woman in New America, Stella knows the rules:
Abstain from sin.
Navigate the world with care.
Respect your chaperone.
Stella can’t go out by herself, or spend time with boys except at Visitations. Girls in New America must have chaperones at all times until they marry, so Stella’s lucky that Sister Helen is like a friend to her. When Sister Helen dies suddenly, she’s devastated, especially when the Constables assign Stella a new chaperone just days later.
Sister Laura is… different. She leaves Stella alone at the library (isn’t that illegal?) and knows how to get into the “Hush Hush” parties where all kinds of forbidden things happen. As Stella spends more time with Sister Laura, she begins to question everything she’s been taught. What if the Constables’ rules don’t actually protect girls? What if they were never meant to keep them safe?
Once Stella glimpses both real freedom and the dark truths behind New America, she has no choice but to fight back against the world she knows. She sets out on a dangerous journey across what was once the United States, risking everything.
This book was something! I have not read The Handmaid’s Tale, but saw the first episode of the tv show and know what it’s about and The Chaperone is definitely a cleaner YA version. (A cleaner as in PG-13 for a few parts.)
In New America women don’t have rights and girls are subjected to even more rules. You can never be alone and once girls become women (ie has their first period) they have to have a chaperone. Stella is in the upper class and has her own private chaperone that lives with her family and Stella’s younger sister will have her own chaperone in a few years. The book starts with the death of Sister Helen and everything changes.
Next comes Sister Laura who is different and she begins teaching Stella things and Stella begins to have experiences that she never would have under Sister Helen. Stella begins to think differently and then the book goes in a direction with Stella that months ago she would have never questioned. A journey of self-discovery, finding out the many truths and more comes with the rest of the novel. Saying anything else would be giving away things.
I really enjoyed this book! This is a society that we would not want to live under at all: Girls are expected to marry and then have many babies. Some girls do get to go to college, some become chaperones. The book is about 450 pages but is an extremely fast read and the shorter chapters help. In addition to having a paperback copy, I was also granted a listening copy from the publisher and was able to listen to it during my hour commute to and from work. I therefore finished this book in just a few days! I could not put it down! I wanted to know what was going to happen next!
This is a book that makes you think a lot about women rights/etc and I was thinking about it for a few days after finishing! I really hope M Hendrix is able to continue the series as I really want to know what is going to happen next in Stella’s world! There is an ending to this book, but there is still so much more for us to experience next! If you enjoy dystopian’s this is one to pick up!
The narrator is Laura Knight Keating and she did a great job portraying Stella. I hope she is brought back for the next book. Many thanks to the publisher for granting me an audio copy which I listened to as I read my paperback copy![Top]