This is an unusual novel and may well result in the reader abstaining from meat products upon completion. The horror in the book comes from the descriptions and events that occur in MMP (Magnus Meat Packaging)
Richard Shanti “the ice pick” is a stunman and it is his job to fire a bolt gun into the brow of the cow as it passes in front of him on its way to immortality and someone’s Sunday roast! In the community of Abyrne meat is viewed as a precious commodity all must partake, meat is the centre of this community it keeps the people strong and its production imposes a sense of order. When a number of citizens begin to question the need for meat, and its bloody production the scene if set for confrontation between those who wield the power and those who are downtrodden.
If this was a zombie or virus meltdown tale then I would be much more accepting of the books content, as the arena of the story would be worldwide. The impression “Meat” leaves on me is the small community of Abyrne is under the control of one despotic ruler Magnus Pike and those who do not choose to accept this must live in the “Derelict Quarter” an area of squalor and nonconformity. This embeds the idea that the timeline and setting of the story is very insular and takes place in an isolated location. (I presume the rest of the world is not suffering from autocratic meat barons!)
Having said that there some memorable characters and enjoyable moments which leaves me to introduce the sad and somewhat comic figure of Greville Snipe. It would appear that Greville has spent too much of his working life out of the sun and in the company of livestock and forms an unlikely attachment with one of the cows, “White-047”....”Beautiful bounteous creature, he crooned. Beautiful, beautiful girl. Mr Shipe’s going to make it all better” Unfortunately for Greville his fraternizing with “the chosen” (as the cattle are referred to) comes to the attention of Magnus and he is not too pleased....”You’d be surprised how many cow f***ers I see in here, Snipe. Some of them like to f**k the veal calves, others prefer the steers. Doesn’t matter to me what they do because when I find out, they never do it again”.
As the story evolves a small group of renegades led by the charismatic John Collins decides to fight back against the enforced eating of meat and to strike a blow for vegetarianism. The outcome is predictable and as we stampede towards the final showdown the cattle are granted almost human like qualities..”Led by BlUE-792, ten thousand pairs of hands, tapped out their message. They tapped it on their own thighs, upon each other’s backs, they padded it against walls and fenceposts; they beat it on the ground. As one, they breathed.”
This was a fun story in which the author clearly has a message to impart to his readers and at times it was quite enjoyable. It is best avoided by those who are meat lovers/eaters or perhaps should be read as their attitude towards the simple eating of meat may be dramatically and permanently altered!