As the novel expanded to encompass more lives, I found myself less entranced. It wasn't the difficult but brilliant language choices; it wasn't the raunchy but highly original portrayal of bears; it wasn't the shifting multiple viewpoints. All of that, I admired and appreciated as gutsy literary choices. It was simply that the human heart of it got lost for me after we left Liga, and I never found it again. Really, I would've gone anywhere with that girl and wanted to.
More than that, I wonder about the novel's intended effect on me. Living with the truth is a classic theme in YA, and a good one. It's touted on the back cover as being this book's theme. But to me, Tender Morsels seems to be about brutality---literally, the brutes inside us. I didn't realize that until the "revenge" scene, which was so beastly that I wondered if the point of it was to show us what our ugliest inner thoughts look like when turned into reality. If so, Lanagan succeeds, and I felt like crap afterwards. But maybe, as I should. We are all brutal, even the best of us, as Branza, the "golden daughter," shows when she savagely bites someone. I don't know.
All I know is that I feel like a "tender morsel" who was just eaten by this book. Lanagan is wickedly talented, and seems to be fearless. I will read what she writes. But I'm going to reserve the right not to like it.
Absolutely guaranteed to make for a passionate book club discussion.