King called the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer ‘creepy and fascinating’, and describes Consumed as ‘an eye-opening dazzler’. We’re inclined to agree, which is why we’ve ensured that the book’s paperback cover is as eye-opening and dazzling as possible. Here it is in all its gory glory, with design by Jonathan Pelham:
The striking, squelchy design echoes the book’s striking, squelchy narrative. Stylish and tech-obsessed, Naomi and Nathan are lovers and competitors. Nomadic freelancers in pursuit of sensation and depravity in the social media age, they encounter each other only in airport hotels and browser windows.
Naomi is drawn to the headlines surrounding Célestine and Aristide Arosteguy, Marxist philosophers and sexual libertines. Célestine has been found dead and mutilated in her Paris apartment. Aristide, suspected of the killing, has disappeared. Her interest aroused, Naomi sets off in search of the truth about the disturbing mystery.
Nathan, meanwhile, is in Budapest photographing the work of a controversial surgeon. But after sleeping with one of his subjects, Nathan contracts a rare STD called Roiphe’s. Determined to meet the doctor who identified the disease, Nathan comes across Roiphe’s daughter, a young woman whose bizarre behaviour masks a devastating secret.
These parallel narratives become entwined in a gripping, dreamlike plot that involves 3-D printing, North Korea, the Cannes Film Festival, cancer, and, in an incredible number of varieties, sex.
The cover blurs the line between organic matter and technology, a favoured Cronenberg theme best demonstrated in his 1983 film Videodrome. Are the tangled red patterns that writhe around it data wires or veins and arteries? Subtly suggesting both the anatomical and the cybernetic, they hint at the cocktail of sex, violence and machinery within. Much like a Cronenberg film, it’s simultaneously beautiful and grotesque.
And if that’s not enough to get you intrigued, here’s the book trailer, directed by the author himself. Be warned, as you might expect from the synopsis above, it is not in any way safe for work…
Consumed is published by 4th Estate on 7th August 2015.
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