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10 Books Like Tender is The Flesh

Books Like Tender is The Flesh

Agustina Bazterrica’s “Tender is the Flesh” isn’t for the faint of heart. 

It throws you into a dystopian world grappling with a horrifying reality: a virus has rendered all animal meat unsafe for human consumption. The solution? 

Well, let’s just say it’s not for the squeamish. 

But if you found yourself engrossed in the novel’s dark exploration of humanity, its ethical questions, and its disturbing yet thought-provoking premise, then you’re likely searching for more stories that push boundaries and leave a lasting impression. 

Buckle up, because this list of books like “Tender is the Flesh” is about to take you on a wild ride through disturbing, captivating, and undeniably compelling narratives.

Books Like Tender is The Flesh

1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road” is a post-apocalyptic novel that explores the journey of a father and his young son over a period of several months, as they traverse a landscape blasted by an unspecified cataclysm that has destroyed most of civilization and, in the process, most life on earth. 

The narrative is stark and harrowing, focusing on the duo’s struggle to survive in a world where the remnants of humanity have turned to cannibalism and brutality to stay alive. 

McCarthy’s prose is both beautiful and brutal, capturing the bleakness of the landscape and the tender relationship between the father and son amidst the horror of their circumstances.

Major Similarities: 

Like “Tender is the Flesh,” “The Road” delves into themes of survival in a dystopian world where societal norms have broken down. 

Both novels examine the extremes to which humanity can be pushed in desperate circumstances, and both prominently feature cannibalism as a central element of their post-apocalyptic settings. 

The moral and ethical dilemmas faced by the characters in these stories are similarly profound, compelling readers to confront uncomfortable questions about humanity, ethics, and survival.

2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

“Never Let Me Go” is a dystopian science fiction novel set in a parallel version of England, where human clones are bred and raised to be organ donors. 

The story follows the lives of Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth, from their childhood at a seemingly idyllic boarding school called Hailsham, to their adult lives, as they come to terms with their fates as donors. Ishiguro’s narrative is deeply emotional, exploring themes of memory, love, and loss, against the backdrop of a society that views these clones as less than human. 

The novel raises profound ethical questions about the nature of humanity and the moral implications of cloning.

Major Similarities: 

Both “Never Let Me Go” and “Tender is the Flesh” explore themes of dehumanization and exploitation within a dystopian society. 

The characters in both novels are forced into roles that serve the needs of a society that sees them as commodities rather than as individuals with rights and feelings. 

The ethical dilemmas presented in both books challenge readers to think about the boundaries of human morality and the value of life. 

Additionally, both narratives are imbued with a sense of inevitable tragedy and loss, highlighting the emotional and psychological impacts of their societies’ demands on their protagonists.

3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is a dystopian novel set in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian state that has overthrown the United States government. 

The story is told from the perspective of Offred, a Handmaid under the new social order, where women are stripped of their rights and forced into roles based on their fertility. 

Atwood’s narrative explores themes of power, gender, and resistance, painting a chilling picture of a society that uses religion and politics to justify the oppression and exploitation of women. 

The book is a profound commentary on the dangers of extremism and the importance of fighting for individual rights and freedoms.

Major Similarities: 

Similar to “Tender is the Flesh,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” presents a society where certain individuals are devalued and used for the benefit of others, highlighting issues of bodily autonomy and the commodification of the human body. 

Both novels feature dystopian worlds where the protagonists are trapped in systems that exploit them, forcing readers to confront the realities of oppression and the loss of identity. 

The themes of resistance against a cruel and unjust system are central to both stories, encouraging a reflection on the value of humanity and the spirit of survival in the face of dehumanization.

4. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

“Oryx and Crake” is the first novel in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy, set in a world devastated by a global pandemic caused by genetic engineering gone awry. 

The story unfolds through the eyes of Snowman (formerly known as Jimmy), who believes he is the last human on Earth and is left to recount the events leading up to the catastrophe. Atwood weaves a complex narrative that explores themes of scientific ethics, environmental destruction, and the consequences of playing god. 

The novel delves into the friendship and rivalry between Jimmy and Crake, the genius behind the apocalypse, and their shared love for the mysterious Oryx.

Major Similarities: 

“Oryx and Crake” and “Tender is the Flesh” both explore dystopian futures where human actions have led to catastrophic societal breakdowns. 

They share themes of ethical ambiguity in the face of scientific advancement and the commodification of life. Both novels present a critical view of a world where the manipulation of biology has profound and terrifying consequences, challenging readers to consider the moral implications of exploiting living beings for perceived benefits. 

The narratives provoke thought on the sustainability of human society, the ethics of genetic manipulation, and the potential for humanity to cause its own downfall.

5. The Circle by Dave Eggers

“The Circle” is a dystopian novel that explores the dangers of the digital age, focusing on a powerful tech company, The Circle, which aims to bring all aspects of human activity under its purview, ostensibly to improve the world. 

The story follows Mae Holland, a young woman who starts working at The Circle, initially thrilled by the company’s mission and the perks it offers. However, as Mae climbs the corporate ladder, she begins to see the darker side of The Circle’s quest for transparency and the erosion of privacy. 

Eggers crafts a compelling narrative that questions the trade-offs between privacy and security in a society increasingly dominated by technology.

Major Similarities: 

While “The Circle” and “Tender is the Flesh” explore different aspects of dystopian societies—one focusing on technological surveillance and the other on cannibalism and societal collapse—both novels delve into the theme of control and the loss of individual freedom. 

They examine how societal norms can shift towards accepting extreme measures under the guise of achieving a greater good. 

Both books provoke thought on the ethical boundaries of societal advancement and the potential consequences of unchecked power, urging readers to reflect on the importance of maintaining personal autonomy and questioning the status quo.

6. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

“Parable of the Sower” is set in a future America where society has collapsed due to climate change and economic hardships. The protagonist, Lauren Olamina, possesses a unique empathetic ability, which makes her feel the pain and pleasure of others. 

As she navigates a dangerous landscape of anarchy and violence, Lauren develops a new belief system, Earthseed, which she hopes will provide a blueprint for a better future. 

Butler’s novel is a profound exploration of resilience, community, and the human capacity to adapt and survive in the face of devastating circumstances.

Major Similarities: 

Both “Parable of the Sower” and “Tender is the Flesh” depict societies in decline, where the protagonists must navigate a world marked by violence, dehumanization, and survival at any cost. 

The themes of adaptation and resilience in the face of systemic collapse are central to both narratives. 

Additionally, both Butler and Bazterrica explore the potential for new belief systems or societal structures to emerge from the ashes of the old, challenging readers to consider the foundations upon which a just and sustainable society might be built.

7. The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

“The Girl With All The Gifts” is a post-apocalyptic novel that blends elements of horror and science fiction. The story revolves around Melanie, a special young girl who, along with other children, is imprisoned in a military base. 

As the narrative unfolds, it becomes clear that these children are infected with a fungus that turns humans into zombie-like creatures, but they retain their cognitive abilities. 

The novel explores themes of humanity, survival, and what it means to be alive, as Melanie embarks on a journey that challenges the existing notions of human and monster.

Major Similarities: 

Like “Tender is the Flesh,” “The Girl With All The Gifts” examines the concept of “the other” and challenges perceptions of what it means to be human. 

Both novels are set in dystopian futures where society has been fundamentally altered by a catastrophic event, leading to a reevaluation of ethical and moral boundaries. 

The themes of survival, the intrinsic value of life, and the capacity for empathy and connection in dire circumstances are explored deeply in both stories, offering a poignant commentary on the human condition.

8. The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

“The Book of M” is a dystopian novel set in a world where people’s shadows start to disappear, along with their memories. This phenomenon also grants them a mysterious new power—but at a devastating cost. 

The narrative follows multiple characters as they navigate a world transformed by the loss of memory and the chaos that ensues. 

Shepherd weaves a tale of love, loss, and the human spirit’s resilience, exploring the power of memory and the connections that bind us together.

Major Similarities: 

Both “The Book of M” and “Tender is the Flesh” present readers with a world radically altered by a mysterious phenomenon, leading to a breakdown of societal norms and forcing characters to confront the essence of what makes them human. 

Themes of loss, the struggle for survival, and the moral dilemmas faced by individuals in a changed world are central to both stories. The novels provoke thought on the value of memory, identity, and human connection in the face of dystopian realities.

9. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

“Station Eleven” is a novel that spans multiple timelines before and after a devastating flu pandemic wipes out most of the world’s population. 

The story connects the lives of several characters, including a traveling Shakespearean theater troupe navigating the remnants of civilization. 

Mandel’s narrative is a meditation on art, memory, and the importance of community and culture in sustaining the human spirit in the face of catastrophe.

Major Similarities: 

“Station Eleven” and “Tender is the Flesh” both explore the aftermath of societal collapse, focusing on the resilience of human beings and the role of culture and art in maintaining a sense of identity and hope. 

While their dystopian triggers differ, both novels delve into the complexities of rebuilding and reimagining society when the familiar has been irrevocably lost. 

They share a contemplative tone that reflects on the fragility of civilization and the enduring strength of human connection.

10. American War by Omar El Akkad

“American War” is set in a late-21st-century America ravaged by civil war and environmental catastrophe. 

The novel follows the life of Sarat Chestnut, a young girl from Louisiana who grows up in a refugee camp and becomes radicalized into a formidable warrior. 

Through Sarat’s eyes, El Akkad explores the causes and consequences of war, the cycles of violence, and the personal and political impacts of environmental devastation and societal division.

Major Similarities: 

Both “American War” and “Tender is the Flesh” present dystopian visions of the future characterized by societal breakdown and the extremes of human behavior in the face of survival. 

Themes of violence, radicalization, and the impact of environmental and political catastrophe on individual lives are central to both narratives. 

These novels provoke reflection on the potential paths society could take if current issues are left unaddressed, highlighting the importance of empathy, understanding, and the dire need for sustainable solutions.

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