Title: Tender Morsels
Author: Margo Lanagan
Year Published: 2007
Number of Pages: 436 pages
Date Read: 7/19/2010
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Content Rating: Ages 18+ (Sex Scenes and Rape Scenes)
Trigger Warning: Rape Scenes
After I read Margo Lanagan’s “Black Juice,” I thought that Margo Lanagan’s “Tender Morsels” was going to be a horrible read. However, I was quite impressed with how improved the plot and characters are in this book are from “Black Juice.” “Tender Morsels” is a Printz Honor Book by Margo Lanagan and it is about how a suffering woman named Liga is mysteriously sent to a world where everything is perfect and friendly and raises her two daughters, Branza and Urdda, in this heaven. However, when wild bears and tiny men come to Liga’s heavenly world, Liga and her two daughters realized that there is another world different from the world they live in. “Tender Morsels” might be too dark and upsetting for some readers to handle, but the fantasy elements of this book might enchant some readers.
I must admit that after I read “Black Juice,” I thought that this book was going to be no better. However, I was surprised at how much improved this book was in character development and plot development than in “Black Juice.” Margo Lanagan has done an excellent job at making this story extremely dramatic and somewhat frightening as the characters, especially Liga, go through a series of horrifying events that will have many readers cringing at the description of these events and many readers will definitely feel sympathy for the main character Liga as she goes through so many horrendous situations during her life. Also, readers who love dark fantasy elements will definitely enjoy this book as there is a good amount of fantasy elements dealing with other world barriers and has an extremely dark tone to the story that would intrigued many readers.
There are three main issues that I had with this book and they included strong violence, some rape scenes and confusing narration. There are many violent scenes in this book that readers who are sensitive to violence might not be able to handle and these violent scenes include a brutal murder scene, which I will not go into too much detail since I do not want to spoil the book for people who want to read this book, but the violence is extremely graphic as Margo Lanagan goes into great detail about how one of the characters is murdered. Also, there are two rape scenes in this book that many readers (including myself) who do not approve of rape scenes might not be able to handle. The issue that really stood out the most in this book is the narration as the story switches from Liga’s perspective to the bear’s perspective on the story and that will confuse many readers. Liga’s side of the story is pretty straightforward and the characters are well developed and the plot is more interesting, however whenever we get to the bear’s side of the story, there are several different characters speaking on their experiences as the bear character and it is extremely frustrating to read through since you do not know which character is speaking their tale.
“Tender Morsels” is an interesting tale about the dangers of reality versus fantasy worlds and many readers who are fans of dark fantasy books will definitely love this book. I gave this book three and a half stars because the violence is extremely graphic and the narration is a bit too frustrating to read through as it constantly switches from Liga’s story to the bear’s story and I would have gladly just stick with Liga’s side of the story since her story is much more understanding and interesting than the bear’s side of the story.
* 2008 Shirley Jackson Award Nominee for Novel (Finalist)
* 2008 James Tiptree Jr. Award Honor List
* 2009 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel
* 2009 Ditmar Award for Best Novel
* 2009 Michael L. Printz Award Nominee
* 2010 Sakura Medal Nominee for High School Book
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