Title: The Savages
Author: Matt Whyman
Published: 6th June 2013
Who’s it for? Teens
What’s it about? The Savages are a close knit family of, ahem, “evolved eaters” with a major obsession with food. Unusual food. So much so that Sasha Savage, the eldest daughter, risks her parents wrath when she starts dating, horror of horrors, a vegetarian. To outsiders they’re normal, but behind closed doors the Savages hide a dark, dark secret – but when Vernon English, private detective, starts looking into their lives … threatening to stumble upon their secret love for human flesh.
What’s good about it? For a book about cannibals – sorry, evolved eaters – it’s surprising how funny it is. From the premise I wasn’t expecting to find a lot of laughs, but there’s a delicious dark humour to this which had me giggling.
Despite the fact they eat people the Savages are quite likeable. I did like their Grandpa and I thought his interactions with his grandchildren were lovely. Titus and Angelica made for quite a sweet married couple, I really loved her stubborn independent streak though – she didn’t need him to take care of her debt, even though he could erase it all instantly – she wanted to fix her own problems.
I loved Sasha though, I loved how she knew her own mind and wouldn’t let herself be swayed by Jack’s charms. All too often girls in teen fiction fawn and simper after the male leads, or have little personality beyond loving this other person, but Sasha, thankfully, wasn’t like that at all.
Ivan was the only really disturbing one of the bunch. His pranks were alarming and I found him to be genuinely creepy. It’s hard to like someone whose idea of humour is someone else being maimed. Then again, his entire family eats people, so it’s a tough one to call.
What’s bad about it? The first few pages are interesting for the detail but they were a bit tough to get through.
The verdict? This was an advanced copy sent by the publishers in exchange for an honest review. So I’ll be honest. I can’t really believe I enjoyed this. It’s about a family of cannibals! But I did, I really did. The humour is witty and pitched just right – it could go so easily wrong in something like this – but it made for a easy read (once through the initial few pages). I read this in one sitting whilst on the train and it certainly made the journey pass by quicker.
At its heart this is about family and the ties that bind. There’s all the normality of family life with added relationship drama, shopping addictions, and an extremely dodgy sense of humour (that involve ‘pranks’ that maim). The twist on the norm is just their unusual culinary habits.
If the thought of reading about cannibals turns your stomach, don’t let it dissuade you from reading this. After all, they only eat people for special occasions.