This book is the darkly creepy coming-of-age tale of Maren, a sixteen year old girl who literally eats anyone who shows her any affection. Maren's first victim, her babysitter, comes when she is only a baby. Her other victims are all boys who show an interest in her as she grows older - a boy from camp, the son of her mother's boss, etc. These boys are presumed missing and Maren's mother quickly packs them up and moves them away before the truth is realized. After years of moving, Maren's guilt-stricken mother abandons her on her 16th birthday. Maren embarks on a journey to find the father she's never known and meets others with her odd proclivities along the way. This is an entertaining, though disturbing, read. I was pulled in right away and read it quickly. I wanted to know where Maren would end up, if she would overcome her compulsion to eat people, what kind of relationships she would be able to build.
Maren is really struggling to find herself. How can she be a good person when she does such horrible things? How can she learn to live with herself? Can she ever have long-lasting, meaningful relationships with people? Can she accept love and affection from someone without ruining it? I love that Maren is such a sweet and good character even though she does these horrible things.
The plot was entertaining and the characters each original and interesting. There are no stereotypes here. All are flawed and just trying to make their way in the world - some with more decency than others. The ending resolves all of the major plot points but still leaves Maren's story open enough for the reader to speculate, or for the author to write a sequel.
This book can be read on multiple levels. I think many readers will enjoy this solely for its creep factor and because it's such an original idea. This book will also appeal to the thinking reader. By that I mean the reader who is looking for more than just entertainment. There are lots of discussion topics here: the loneliness of adolescence, losing yourself to love, the roles our biology and genes play in who we are, the ethics of eating flesh. This would be a fantastic book for group discussions.
Overall this book is strange and disturbing, entertaining but also thought provoking and relatable. It will appeal to those looking for something new in the horror genre while also appealing to those looking for deeper discussions. I would recommend to anyone looking for something different.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.