Every Boy Should Have a Man by Preston L. Allen
(from the book jacket)
In a post-human world, a boy oaf comes home from school and finds a female man wrapped up in red ribbon. A note around her neck reads: Every boy should have a man. You’re a fine son. Love, Dad.
Preston L. Allen takes readers on a journey into uncharted territory. He traces the story of the boy and the “mans’ he loves as pets: Brown Skin who is not his, the tragic Red Sleeves who has no voice and her quick-witted daughter Red Locks whose fierceness leads her out of backbreaking drudgery in the mines into the perils of the battlefield to the savagery of cannibalism.
This is rather a hard book to review. Partly because it doesn't really fit into any category that I can name and partly because I'm not really sure how I felt about it. It is part fairy tale, part myth, part dystopian fiction and a few other parts too. It explores themes of slavery, cannibalism, war, environmentalism and other big issues. And it spans several generations. It does all this in a relatively short story. It does read quickly and it is interesting how it starts you in a world you don't recognize and works in pieces of a story every child knows. I do like how you are uncertain if this is the future of the human race or its past or happening right now. It is an interesting story and told in a deceptively simple tone so the impact of it kind of creeps up on you. But in a way that was also why I think I didn't connect with it very much. It is told like a fable. Names aren't used and although it follows particular characters they are more examples to make a point than they are individuals and left me with no one I could relate to. Which would have been fine in a fable of a couple of pages or so but in a novel left me feeling unconnected. A lot of the concepts and plotting are interesting but in the end it was more interesting than enjoyable to read.