Release Date: June 2, 2015
Pre order: Amazon
*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.
Sweet was bit of a random eARC pick for me for me since I am usually the one who requests all the contemporary books and pretty much nothing else. Sweet might be listed as 'contemporary' by some in Goodreads but let me assure you, THIS IS NOT A CONTEMPORARY READ. It is more of a mix between a contemporary read and a very weird vampire novel. Yes, you read right - VAMPIRE. Unfortunately, at this point I feel like I should have not clicked the request button for Sweet because I still, a couple of days after I finished with this, feel like I have no idea what I read.
The premise for Sweet is an interesting one - a cruise promoting a new drug/supplement that could help to beat the problems of obesity. Unfortunately, I continually felt like the book did not really treat obesity as something that might come with serious consequences (heart failures etc) and rather just placed all the attention on the visual side of obesity and how everyone must want to look skinny. Pretty much in this book skinny=beautiful, fat=ugly.
I feel like the author had attempted to make this novel a sort of a satire, an ironic look into the way society clings to certain body images over others. And hey, that would have been a very interesting book to read, but unfortunately for me this just read as the complete opposite. Though the main character Laurel seems to be okay with her body, the other characters are so toxic and conceited everything Laurel says and does is very quickly forgotten. Also, I did not really like the exchanges between Laurel and her best friend Viv, especially when they discuss their bodies - Viv wants to be skinny, Laurel is okay with herself as she is; rather than trying to understand each other and support each other in whatever they want to do, they constantly bicker about this. Why can't they just be who they are and support each other despite their differing opinions?
So Laurel has been invited to join this super exclusive cruise by her friend Viv whose parents paid for the whole shebang in their divorce guilt. The cruise is designed to promote this new miracle drug Solu that promises extremely quick weight-loss results. Laurel is described as bit of an "outsider", at least when compared to Viv. But honestly, she is not really an outsider. She just plays guitar and does not really care about clothes. That does not really make her that much different from a normal teenage girl.
There's also this guy called Tom on the boat who is this famous child-star grown old (kind of like Zac Efron). He used to play this chubby little kid in a famous family TV show (think something like Full House) and though he is far from chubby right now, he still carries the "burden" of his early fame with him. Desperate to get into the movie business and to be taken seriously, he agrees to host the coverage from the cruise (seriously though, if you want to be taken seriously, maybe you should not host a very trashy seeming coverage for a cruise.... just saying). There he of course meets Laurel who is "so different" from all the girls he has met before. Enter instalove. You know what happens next.
Though Laurel didn't annoy me that much, I would Tom to be extremely obnoxious and honestly, a bit of a douche. Yeah, he tries to hide this "sensitive" side with his douchiness, but really, for me all that sensitivity stayed a mystery. Also, yeah, he's buff, but the way the author clings to repeatedly describing Tom's gym obsession got to be a bit too much because you pretty much get it the first time. In summary, TOM IS SO BUFF HE DOES NOT HAVE TO TAKE THE WEIGHT-LOSS SUPPLEMENT. Surprise surprise, Laurel does not take it either.
So as the cruise proceeds, suddenly all these people who have taken the supplement start to show weird systems. This is when the whole vampire style thing comes into light. I don't want to spoil this for you in case you want to read it, but let's just say that the effects of the drug are very quick and very random. I feel like the author should have taken more time to introduce the symptoms more gradually. As it is now, it just felt very rushed and very over-the-top.
I haven't read Emmy Laybourne's Monument 14 series and I must, unfortunately, say that I probably won't pick them up after reading this one. Laybourne's characterization and writing just did not work for me at all. Sweet certainly is very action packed, but for me, it lacked a heart and substance. The characters are fairly one-dimensional and as the novel goes on, I started to care less and less for what happens to them. The writing feels clumsy at points (please note that this is an ARC and probably looks a bit different from the published book) and the dialogue feels a bit fake, especially between Laurel and Tom. I feel like towards the end of the novel they don't know each other any better than they did in the beginning, so believing that they are suddenly in love just did not fly with me.
The ending of the book suggests that there might be a sequel. If that happens, I will not push that request button for a review copy.