A science fiction novel I read, I believe, when I was a young teenager in the early 1990s, it featured some disturbing imagery (not as an identification note, but as a warning for users faint of heart). It began with an implacable and sudden invasion of earth by large alien ships. Humanity was herded aboard, many slaughtered for meat or flayed alive as others looked on.
The narrative follows one woman who was initially flayed like the others, but then was spared somehow. The initial events are quite blurry in my memory, but I think confusion, bewilderment, and shock at the invasion and the events inflicted upon her was embedded in the narrative and not just my faulty memory. By the time clarity returned to the prose her new "owner" somehow had her surgically restored with a new skin and was keeping her as a pet. The rest of the (substantial, as I recall) novel was her perspective on this strange culture she was thrust into the midst of, the plight of humanity, and her struggles to figure out how to cope, maintain her identity with an unfamiliar face and disempowered life, and what to do about the whole situation. She may have participated in an emancipation effort in the rising action of the novel, but I really don't remember how the story developed after the initial events.
I recall it being a 'serious' sci-fi novel – the prose was dense, the ideas mature and of grey morality, and written at what seemed to me a fairly high reading level – and I still associate it with Le Guin's The Dispossessed for those reasons though they're entirely unrelated, apart from having impenetrable prose (for a teenager) and themes of isolation in an alien culture.
It seemed to me even at the time that it was a fairly transparent allegory for humans' relationship to animals, though it went far beyond a simple morality tale. It was quite affecting and has been stuck in my head since, and I'd like to re-read this with an adult's perspective.
Edit: I tracked down a copy of Anne McCaffrey's Restoree as a likely answer. Having read it, the similarities are uncanny but it's not the book I'm looking for. The book I remember is different in these ways I recall:
- The beginning is more explicit. Sara of Restoree doesn't discover the exact nature of her time aboard the ship or what happened to her fellow "passengers" until quite late in the narrative, while the book I remember front-loaded these details.
- There was no romance subplot.
- Her "keeper" was of the same species as her initial captors, lending tension and some Stockholm effect to her relationship to him, while the companion in Restoree is of a different and sympathetic species.
- The aliens she finds herself among are pyschologically unfamiliar and hard to comprehend. She learns their language slowly if at all. In Restoree the aliens are indistinguishable from humans and she absorbs their language subconsciously after her rescue but while she's still in shock.
- The themes were much more sociopolitical and the narrative mostly cerebral. Restoree is an enjoyable political-adventure romp.