I recently received the opportunity to review The Vegetarian by Han Kang. I was given a selection a books to choose from, and the cover to this book immediately jumped out at me. The scarlet color and the dark silhouette, coupled with the title really drew me in.
Then I read the summary, and I knew I wanted to read it! Here is the synopsis of the book:
“Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams—invasive images of blood and brutality—torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It’s a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law and sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that’s become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, and then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her, but also from herself.”
Reading The Vegetarian was definitely an interesting experience. As Yeong-hye descends into madness, it felt like I was as well. The visions and dreams described throughout the book are bizarre, and the writing has a disjointed feel to it. It is very dark, and filled with imagery that gives you goosebumps and curls your toes.
The Vegetarian is split into three parts. The first part is told from Yeong-hye’s husband’s point of view. His wife has had a series of graphic, bloody dreams and she has become determined not to eat meat, eggs, or dairy. The husband strongly objects to her transition, and is infuriated when he cannot force her to stop. He is so used to having a wife that is “average”, and feels that her switch is disruptive to his household and reputation. Yeong-hye’s family also is very upset, and try to take matters into their own hands instead of watching Yeong-hye waste away. I’m not going to talk about the other two parts of the book, because I think that could spoil some really interesting plot elements. However, just know this: it is a gripping psychological book that will leave you shocked as well as keep you on your toes.
There is another thing I’d like to mention; this book is very graphic. Domestic violence, eroticism, madness… If you are of a sensitive nature, this might not be the book for you. But, If you like to be shocked and challenged by a raw story, then check it out!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free through Blogging for Books. This blog post contains my honest, unpaid opinion. To sign up for Blogging for Books, click the banner below!