genre: young adult science fiction
When Laurel decides to join her friend Viv on a "cruise to loose" that promises incredible weight-loss in a short period, she's more than a little cynical. The new product being showcased is Solu, a sweeter whose chemical compound will remove the fat from your body and get you looking GREAT! With a ship full of pseudo-celebrities as well as average folks just looking for a miracle, Laurel's comfort in her own skin puts her in a unique position to watch everyone's experience with Solu. And an experience it is. Solu gets you thin alright, but it's soon clear that it does a lot more than that.
This one was a page turner! I started it late last night and finished today, between the wonderful romance between Laurel and a fellow passenger and the horror of the ship as those who are using Solu begin to act more and more bizarre, I could not put it down! I liked the alternating narratives and, having been on several cruises, the atmosphere and context felt spot on. Warning, though, it is GOREY. And violent. I hadn't expected that, but it's the kind of speculative fiction that really makes you stop and take stock of how we view our expectations for the human body and what a need to feel "beautiful" can compel us to do. Yes, it does sometimes feel like a cautionary tale taken to the nth degree but one that has a place in our culture, I think, especially if it can get even one person to choose to look for change on the inside instead of in a little purple packet of sweetener.