Bones & All (Camille DeAngelis)

Bones & All is a novel by Camille DeAngelis.
Finished on: 18.1.2023
[Here’s my review of the movie adaptation.]

Maren grows up with her mother. They move around a lot, mostly because every once in a while Maren just can’t resist taking a bite out of somebody. Literally. Her mother does her best to keep her out of trouble and from harming people, but as soon as she’s 16years old, she is gone, leaving Maren nothing but her birth certificate. This gives her the chance to track down her father, so Maren sets off. Along the way she realizes that she is not the only one out there who likes to eat people. One of her people is Lee and the two of them decide to stick togehter for a while.

As is so often the case, I liked Bones & All the novel better than I liked Bones and All the film. This has nothing to do with my own imagination being better than what is put on the screen (I don’t really do visual imagination), and everything with the fact that Bones & All the novel knows what it’s about and follows through with its theme(s).

The book cover showing a moment from the movie adaptation where Maren and Lee stand with their backs turned to each other on a hill over a wide landscape.

I enjoyed reading Bones & All, though it didn’t become a favorite of mine. But watching Maren learn to accept who she is and to accept her desires, even if she desires something that is not widely accepted by society did struck a chord with me as a queer person, I can tell you that for sure. Just to be clear, though, the book – fortunately – does not draw the parallel of cannibalism* with queerness.

It does equate cannibalism with desire, though, and with belonging, and with closeness: Maren eats those she loves, feels close to, desires. It is her way to, quite literally, make them apart of her life, of herself. Interestingly enough, Lee’s cannibalism is not about that at all, it’s about protection and keeping safe what he loves. So at the end, [SPOILER] Lee can finally give into his feelings for Maren, knowing full well what that means, because he doesn’t need to protect her anymore. [/SPOILER] In short, even though there are several interpretations of what the cannibalism stands for, you can come to several satisfying conclusions. Unlike the film where I was mostly left with confusion.

DeAngelis’ writing is fine, though it’s not the kind of writing that had me underlining every second sentence. But it is serviceable, keeping the story well-paced and interesting, and showing Maren’s growth along her journey. So, even if I didn’t completely love the novel, I found it good enough and am glad I didn’t just watch the movie.

Summarizing: a fine read.

*A note: in the sample chapter I read to decide whether I would want to read the entire book or if the movie would be enough for me, Maren explicitely and immediately calls herself a ghoul. There is no trace of that in the novel anymore. I don’t know if this was changed after the film or before the book was published, but it is an interesting detail.
Also: is it still cannibalism when the eaters are obviously a different species from human, even if they appear humanoid?

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