*People would kill to be thin.*
Solu’s luxurious celebrity-filled “Cruise to Lose” is billed as “the biggest cruise since the Titanic,” and if the new diet sweetener works as promised—dropping five percent of a person’s body weight in just days—it really could be the answer to the world’s obesity problem. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She’s already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host, Tom Forelli (otherwise known as the hottest guy ever!) and she’s too seasick to even try the sweetener. And that’s before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.
*But will they die for it, too?*
Tom Forelli knows that he should be grateful for this job and the opportunity to shed his childhood “Baby Tom-Tom” image. His publicists have even set up a ‘romance’ with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get a bit wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when his celebrity hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it’s Laurel that he’s determined to save.
Emmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 trilogy, takes readers on a dream vacation that goes first comically, then tragically, then horrifyingly, wrong.
Published: June 2, 2015 by Macmillan
Three and a half stars: A satirical horror story with some important messages.
Laurel nervously tugs her battered suitcase down the red carpet. She still can't believe that she, a nobody, is going on the "Cruise to Lose", a cruise for the rich and famous, centered around the new diet sweetener, Solu. Solu promises to melt pounds off within days. At first, Laurel is caught up in the glitz and glamour, and admittedly starstruck when she runs into her childhood crush, Tom Forelli. Tom is a former tv child star, who is trying to remake his image by being the celebrity spokesperson aboard the cruise. For their own reasons, neither Tom nor Laurel take the Solu. After two days, they notice some disturbing side effects. Is Solu really the cure all for obesity?
What I Liked:
- It is hard for me to put into words how I felt about this book. It is certainly not going to be a book for everyone, but I personally enjoyed this satirical look at a society that is obsessed with fame, glamour, wealth and excess, always looking for a quick, easy fix, and in this case the magic cure all is Solu. Solu is a miracle sweetener guaranteed to shed pounds in days. But when one takes the easy way out, catastrophic side effects occur. I enjoyed this funny and twisted tale of excess and gore. If you like dark, comedic horror, dive in.
- I loved all the social implications in this one. This starts out as a cruise that is billed as being bigger than the Titanic. So of course, all of the elite and wealthy and famous are on board to indulge in a week long cruise and to take the new miracle weight loss sweetener. The book begins as a satirical look at many of the ills in our society. Such as our insatiable appetites for gluttony, and our obsession with beauty, fame and fortune, and our willingness to achieve these societal ideals by any means possible despite the consequences, and then the disturbing consequences are revealed. An interesting story indeed.
- I was fascinated with the whole idea of Solu. A miracle sweetener that promises to help a person drop five percent of their body fat within a week by doing nothing more than ingesting the sweetener. Do you remember the modern day weight loss drug, Fen Phen, that everyone jumped on board to take, and the catastrophic health consequences that followed? This story is like that only much, much darker and twisted. I won't get into details as I don't want to spoil it, but I will say that things start to spiral out of control quickly, and it gets dark and ugly. Think zombies on diet pills that are more addictive than street drugs.........I was horrified and fascinated at the same time. It was like a car accident that you couldn't look away from, and I actually liked it.
- The book is told with two first person narratives: Laurel and Tom. Laurel is your average American girl who is offered the trip of a lifetime when her friend brings her along. Laurel is a fish out of water among the wealthy and privileged, but she manages to hold her own and stay true to herself, I liked her outlook on the world, and I especially loved her ideas on body image. Tom is a former childhood star. Surprisingly, he isn't obnoxious or self centered, he is actually a down to earth guy, kind, compassionate and nice. I liked both Tom and Laurel.
- Despite the satirical tone and the blood and gore, this book does have some important messages to impart. I loved that the main character, Laurel, is just an average girl. She is a size fourteen, with curves and freckles. Yet she is comfortable in her own skin, and she is not ashamed of her body. How many seventeen years old can truly say they are satisfied with their body image? Over and over again, Laurel tries to tell her best friend that she is beautiful no matter what. I loved that. Take home message: You are beautiful as you are. Then there are the themes of gluttony and greed and addiction. After reading this, I took a step back and pondered over all the author had to say. I liked her messages.
And The Not So Much:
- The ending is chaotic and it moves at lightning speed. It culminates after a grand standing speech by the villain, explaining why and how. Then after the dust settles, there is an open ended/ cliffhanger finale. I don't think the author is planning on a sequel, but she certainly could write one after the way this book ended. It doesn't end nice and neatly.
- I wasn't a fan of the romance at all. Maybe I am growing more cynical, but YA romances seem to be lacking a bit of something lately. This one felt thrown together, contrived and hurried. The cruise is only six days, and that isn't nearly time enough to be declaring I love yous and all that, but that is what happens. I think the book would have been better without the romance. Basically, you get a nice dose of insta love.
- This book starts out light and funny, but then it takes a severe turn into the darkness. If you aren't a fan of horror and gore, you might want to steer clear of this one. I personally enjoyed the journey to the darker side.
- My best advice for enjoying this one is to set aside any expectations for the story to be even remotely realistic. This is an over the top satirical look at the ills of a gluttonous society looking for the next quick fix, until things go catastrophically wrong... insert dark, moody music....
Sweet was an addictive little book that reads much like a train wreck. This won't be a book for everyone, but I personally had fun with this dark, twisted and comedic story. If you want a book that exposes what happens when greed and laziness meet a quick fix, miracle diet sweetener, with disastrous and gory results, pick this one up.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.