Author: Emmy Laybourne
Genre: YA Contemporary Thriller
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
ISBN-10: 1250055199 (MacTeen)
ISBN-13: 978-1250055194 (MacTeen)
Reviewed by: Bridget
*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.
Quick & Dirty: Very unique story filled with amazing suspense, cute romance, and a profound message. I really enjoyed this story and would highly recommend all YA fans give it a try!
Opening Sentence: A guy wearing skinny jeans and a neon-blue fedora is leaping into the air, vaulting up onto the backs of the people in the crowd, waving like crazy and shouting, “Baby Tom-Tom! Baby Tom-Tom!” like a man on fire calling for a bucket.
Seventeen year old Laurel is about to embark on one of the most talked about cruises of all time. She is going with her best friend Viv and not only is the cruise going to be fun, they are also going to lose weight. Both Viv and Laurel are a little on the curvy side and while this never bothered Laurel, it has been a constant struggle for Viv for years now. Everyone on this luxury cruise will get to sample a new product called Solu. It is a sweetener that is designed to help people lose five percent of their body weight in just a matter of days. Laurel was never really excited to go on the cruise, but once she gets super seasick she really regrets going. Not only does she not feel good enough to even try Solu, she also ends up puking all over the shoes of her celebrity crush, Tom Forelli.
After a few days Laurel starts to feel better, but she noticed that all the passengers have started acting strange. It seems that Solu isn’t quite what it seemed and soon things on the ship go from being weird to dangerous. The only person Laurel finds that she can turn to is Tom, the childhood celebrity that she has had a crush on for years.
Tom Forelli grew up on a reality TV show and pretty much everyone in America watched him since he was a little kid. Ever since the show was canceled Tom has tried to shed the image of being “Baby Tom-Tom” but it has been a difficult feat. Being hired to host the media coverage of the launch of Solu is one of the biggest career opportunities of his life. His publicist has even set up a fake romance with one of the celebrities on board the ship, but Tom finds he can’t stop thinking about Laurel, a normal girl he met on the ship. It soon becomes clear that Solu has some serious side effects and Tom finds that more than anything he wants to make sure that Laurel stays safe.
Laurel is a very inspirational character. She is considered to be a little on the chubby side, which in our society means she is fat or overweight. But in all reality she is actually very average compared to most women, society just doesn’t see her that way. I loved that Laurel is comfortable in her own skin, she doesn’t obsess over how much she weighs or what diet she should try next. She is happy with the way she is, and I’m going to be perfectly honest — that is a hard thing to do. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Laurel truly believed that. But she does still feel self conscious at times because what normal girl doesn’t struggle with the way they look at one point or another. Her struggles made her feel more realistic which helped me make a better connection with her. Surprisingly with how much confidence she had she was actually a very shy person. But that just added to her overall charm and likeability. She is a really sweet girl and I felt like many people will be able to relate to her character really well.
Tom is a total stud. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to grow up as a childhood celebrity, but Tom seems to have dealt with it the best way he could. He hasn’t gone off the deep end like most childhood celebrities do, but he doesn’t really know how to live a normal life either. Most people either want something from you or they are a crazy fan. It has been difficult for Tom to develop any meaningful relationships over the years because most everything and everyone in his life are putting on an act. When he meets Laurel he is instantly attracted to her and she is so different from the girls he is used to being around. I love how awkward he was at moments with Laurel and I thought their relationship was really cute.
Sweet is a unique story that is unlike anything else I have ever read. The plotline was very intriguing and I honestly had a hard time putting the book down. There is great action that got a little gory at times, but nothing too bad. The romance was really sweet and while it did develop a little faster than I would have preferred, I still enjoyed it. I thought the characters were very likeable and easy to relate to. The pacing of the novel was spot on and I never felt like the book ever lagged in any way. There were a few moments about ¾ of the way in the book that caused me to feel a slight disconnect with the story. It just felt like a few things in the plotline came from the middle of nowhere and it threw me off a little bit. The story also got more gruesome then I was expecting and I didn’t love that. Luckily, this cleared up after a few chapters and surprisingly I really enjoyed the ending. I’m not sure if everyone will like how things were left, but I thought that it tied the story up perfectly. I love how Laybourne portrayed such a delicate profound message in such an entertaining way. Body image is such a huge deal in our world today and I felt that Laybourne did such a great job covering the issue in such a realistic and inspirational way. I would highly recommend this to anyone that is looking for a fast paced novel filled with action, romance, and a wonderful message!
“Hi,” I say to the girls. “Excuse me, how are you two finding the Titanic so far?” I pimp. Can’t give a better setup than that…
One of them turns around and flashes me a broad grin.
“Oh my God!” she says. She elbows her friend in the ribs. “This cruise is so amazing! I can’t believe we’re getting to meet you!”
Then the other girl turns.
She’s got strawberry-blond hair that’s coming out of some kind of braid up-do. She’s pretty. Not-too skinny at all. Her face is covered in freckles and her skin…
Her skin is green.
“How do you like the view?” I ask.
Then blondie hurls.
She pukes her lunch all over the deck and all over my feet.
Tamara says, “Cut.”
FTC Advisory: Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan provided me with a copy of Sweet. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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