Updated: Feb 4
The Book Eaters is a novel that takes us across time in a way that lets us see the character's growth and shift from innocence to something darker and more real. It is a book that once you get into it, nothing seems to be able to pull you out! Dean created a real gem in this soft and dark fantasy.
The Book Eaters follow Devon, a woman and a member of the dying race of book eaters. What are book eaters? Well. they're exactly what they sound like: a race of people that eats books. And even cooler, they retain the knowledge of the books they eat. (I could've used this ability in college.) One downside however is that book eaters cannot write. They are physically incapable of using written language at all, they can only consume it. There's another species of book eaters also. They're mind eaters, and they consume the minds of their victims with their long straw-like tongues. Their hunger makes them dangerous and usually they are killed or turned into little more than entranced bodyguards.
Well, Devon is a book eater and her son is a mind eater and she wants more for him than that. We follow as Devon begins to learns the truth of her society and just how restrictive the "princess" lifestyle can be. As she fights against it, we are taken along for the ride.
The author does a magnificent job of voice and shifting between the two timelines in her narrative. When the narrator focuses on Devon, it is altogether different from when it focuses on her brother, Ramsey. Furthermore, her characterization of each character with just a few words helps tie us into the action more and more. I'm not going to give any spoilers, but Ramsey enjoys eating books about racism and hate. This struck me as very interesting. And you can already tell a lot about who he is just from this sentence. Dean does this with all of her characters, not just her central cast. As a reader, I can definitely appreciate the time that she spent building her cast of characters and flushing out each of their personalities.
As I mentioned before, book eaters can eat books, but they cannot use written language. This concept is ingenious. When paired with the fact that the "ravenous" mind eaters can read and write (reading is against the book eater law), it's mind-boggling. It begs questions that force us as readers to want to know answers and continue turning pages. The pacing works well and the plot, which tells the story of a mother racing against time, family and tradition is told in a way that I have never experienced before. It made it quite a thrilling read. I love how well she mixed the supernatural with the mundane.
Would I recommend this book? Yes.