David Cronenberg’s debut novel Consumed is… weird. Not bad-weird and not quite good-weird either; like his famous movies, Consumed is a trip through a rabbit-hole of paranoia, conflicting truths, and a conspiracy theory that by the end of things seems to involve North Korea and spell doom for the two main journalists.
I’ll be honest. Consumed, as a novel trying to tell a story, isn’t great. It’s a lot of various horrifying ideas all pulled together and not quite connecting, written in absolutely gorgeous and chilling prose – but it ends just before the conclusion that readers have been working towards, and the conspiracy theory it orients itself around gets to the point of disbelief. That being said, the ideas and images in the book are powerful. Cronenberg connects seemingly disparate images into a set of metaphors, and pulls you down into the depravity involved. It’d be a much better book if it had an ending, but I suppose that’s where imagination comes in.
Ultimately, Consumed functions more as a series of vignettes and thought streams than a cohesive novel. If that’s the kind of thing that interests you, go for it! But don’t expect a narrative that entirely makes sense.
However, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a reviewer if I didn’t make sure to put a MASSIVE content warning on this book. I mean, it’s Cronenberg, so one can assume a certain level of body horror anyway, but it’s about cannibalism, literally (and figuratively) consuming a woman’s body, and a weirdly high amount of sex scenes. There are also some slightly twitchy moments in regards to the Tokyo setting and Japanese culture in general.