Mini Review: Sweet by Emmy Laybourne

Sweet
Emmy Laybourne

Feiwel & Friends
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Releases June 2, 2015
288 pages
YA / Horror-ish / Weird

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*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.

Last week Emmy stopped by Working for the Mandroid to discuss how Sweet had a horror bent to it along with dabbling in several other subgenres, like comedy, romance and commentary on the weirdness of society’s obsession with thinness. While the variety in genre ideas makes Sweet a unique book, it also prevented me from diving into the weirdness. By not deciding what direction to take the narrative and instead trying to smash together several different types of genre tropes, Sweet ended up being a little half-baked to me.

It never goes full horror even when things start getting gory. It’s more goofy horror that’s heavy on the blood, but really light on chills or fear. It never caused me to laugh out loud, but rather the humor occasionally got a half-cocked eyebrow out of me. The social commentary never came close to hitting the heights of Beauty Queens, instead leaving me kind of sad and maybe even mildly offended at times. Only Laurel ever becomes much more than a flat character, though looking back all I can really tell you about her is that she plays classical guitar, comes from a loving, body accepting family, and really likes boots.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR THINGS THAT DON’T HAPPEN

Tom just annoyed me to be honest. He is obsessive with his gym workout and food intake to the point that I thought he was going to go wackadoo crazy and become evil without ever taking the Solu. That he kind of just hangs around to carry around a needy girl or sweet talk someone and his main identifying characteristic is that he’s a former fat child star didn’t give me much to grab ahold.

The whole time I was reading Sweet, I just wanted something more, rather than skimming the surface of different tropes. The final action sequence is interesting, but throughout the majority of the book, characters make stupid decisions and the whole plot hinges around a device that – when thinking about it too hard – doesn’t make much sense at all. It’s all mustache twirling baddies and vapid heroes.

This could have taken a nice dark turn, but by trying to turn it into a comedy Sweet didn’t really work for me in the end. It’s a very quick read and it might be far more enjoyable who likes those horror comedies like Scream, but those were never for me.