I was drawn to this book by its cover, so different from the others in the dystopian YA section of the bookstore. But I didn’t want to buy a book, so I opened the cover and hoped it would suck so I could leave it. But it didn’t suck, so I had to buy it.
It starts out as a soft chick-lit fantasy. Lauren and Viv are going on a once-in-a-lifetime celebrity cruise peopled with famous stars, including teen hearthrob (former child actor) Tom Fiorelli, outgrown his “Baby Tom-Tom” persona and turned super-hot. So when Lauren, musically talented, boot-wearing, strawberry-blonde “girl next door” and Tom have a meet-cute, it feels like an adorable romance. It especially feels like an adorable romance when we have alternating scenes from Tom’s and Lauren’s points of view and it turns out they’re so suited for one another (even if Tom feels a little too old for nineteen).
The ostensible purpose of this trip is to give a select few an exclusive preview to “Solu” a new artificial sweetener that doubles as a diet pill. And it works. Those who eat the desserts sweetened with Solu get a burst of euphoria, followed by rapid weight loss.
And then everything goes sour. Tom and Lauren’s meet cute evolves into a Poseidon’s Adventure kind of bond. Solu, it turns out, is exceedingly addictive, and when supplies run low, the passengers get violent. Tom, Lauren, and some of the crew who haven’t taken any Solu, desperately try to get word back to the US, where Solu is about to be released on an unsuspecting public desperate for an easy weight loss solution.
Four stars for a book that’s dark, wry, satirical, and yet manages to make me care about the hero and heroine.