Published by Feiwel & Friends on June 2, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Science Fiction, YA
Source: ARC borrowed thru Around the World ARC Tours
Emmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 trilogy, takes readers on a dream vacation that goes first comically, then tragically, then horrifyingly wrong!
The luxurious celebrity cruise launching the trendy new diet sweetener Solu should be the vacation of a lifetime. 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—the hottest guy ever!—and she's too sick to even try the sweetener. And that's before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.
Tom knows that he should be grateful for this job and the chance to shed his former-child-star image. His publicists have even set up a 'romance' with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when the hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it's Laurel that he's determined to save.
~ Cruise ship? Magical weight loss supplement? Weird things start to happen? All three things checked off my list of things to look for in a book.
~ I really did like the first half of this book. Laybourne has a good sense of humor and I liked both Laurel and Tom. It was light hearted, and pretty far fetched, but I can roll with that if I like characters or the writing, which I did.
~ Solu is a weight loss sweetner- all the taste of Equal and all of the power of meth for dropping off those unwanted pounds, and just as addictive!
~ So, first half cute and fun, and the romance between Tom and Laurel was fairly adorkable… however it is a bit like one of those books that no matter what’s going on around them, the romance is the most important thing.
~ But about half way through, the book kind of loses the plot.
~ I liked the contrast between Laurel and her bff, Viv. Laurel and Viv are both size 14, but Laurel is very comfortable in her own skin. Her mom is the same size as her, and she grew up seeing her parents have a very romantic relationship, so she’s sure she can be loved at any size. Viv is the complete opposite, having a weight obsessed mother and a father, who if he weren’t rich, you get the feeling that he’d have a t-shirt that reads “No Fatties Allowed”. Viv has been dieting since kindergarten, and while that’s really sad, I’m sure it’s a reality for some young people.
~ Viv brings her own bag of Oreo cookies along on her weight loss cruise. I totally get her messed up relationship with food and eating her feelings. Poor Viv. But at the same time, I much prefer Laurel’s attitude. So if you have to pick which attitude to have towards self body image, ladies and gents, go with Laurel!
~ Tom’s struggle to shed his Baby Tom Tom image is real. He wants to get into serious acting, but at the moment he’s a poor man’s Ryan Seacrest. Like Laurel, Tom isn’t taking the sweetner, because he follows his personal trainer’s advice to the letter. Which I think is a good message- through diet and exercise you too can have Tom’s body. Or you can be Laurel, eat what you want, and still get Tom’s body… in your bed. 🙂 Just kidding, this isn’t an HBO special, it’s mostly PG13.
~ I liked the manufactured romance between Tom and Sabbi- how it was negotiated by their people. It used to go on in old Hollywood, and it still does today. I try really hard not to get too attached to celebrity couples anymore (they’ll just break your heart).
~ The Solu (short for the word solution, which I’m glad the author clarified because I did not get the name) is an instant hit with the hopeful weight loss crowd. Like, instant. And it works. Really, really fast. And Viv is eating Laurel’s share, so you know this can’t be good.
~ Wait, I feel old. Is b-boy the new word for breakdancing? What the hell? Why b-boy? Does that mean girls can’t b-boy? So stupid. Tom, please stop b-boying.
~ The book references a fictional Emma Stone and Chris Hemsworth romantic comedy and I want that to be real so much.
~ The book starts to fall apart when the Solu begins to really mess with people. They’re losing weight, but acting strange. The pace of the book moves into warp speed, so much happening so quickly. I feel like this could have worked better over a summer cruise- a few months, but it was just too much for a week cruise.
~ The things that happen in the second half of the book would make for good, cheesy Lifetime movie but doesn’t work as well for a book.
~ Okay, so yes, the book lost it’s mind half way through, but there were still moments that were good and/or funny. I don’t regret reading this one, and I’m open to reading Laybourne’s other works, even if I will not be recommending Sweet to all my friends.
Laurel- our size happy heroine. Plays classic guitar and brought nothing but boots… to wear on a cruise.
Tom- our boyhood crush all grown up and filled out. Working as a celebrity host to help him shake his heartbroken child star image .
Viv- Laurel’s wealthy and insecure bff.
Rich- publicist for the cruise and very good at people wrangling and fake relationships. Would have liked to see more of him.
Sabbi Ribiero- a blend of Snooki, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian (with a dash of Lauren Conrad). Famous because she’s a rich teen on tv. I can totally relate.
Tamara- Tom’s image obsessed producer.
Cubby- Tom’s adorable and dependable camera man.
Claire- the youngest on board the cruise to lose.
Mr. Almstead- owner of Solu and CEO of a huge soda company.
Dr. Zhang- the inventor and brains behind Solu, the new weight loss sweetner.
Bonnie- Tom’s famous ex, who leaked his sad “why don’t you love me anymore” voicemails to TMZ.
Jaideep- kindly ship waiter who Laurel befriends.
There are a couple of very vivid scene once the cruise begins to go down faster than the Titanic- the ones that stand out are the scenes with Sabbi and her crew re-living the 80’s cocaine craze with Solu, and how Laurel handles the baddie behind the chaos. It’s gross but super fitting. And definitely worth the extra half star.
Stop the Clock:
Sweet is not a horrible book, I really enjoyed parts of it, even if it’s not particularly cohesive. I think it would have worked better as a longer novel with more development over time, or less focus on the romance. But it entertained me at half the time, and I’d watch it if the Sci Fy channel wanted to film it.
Sweet gets a Midnight Book rating of: