Laybourne, Emmy. Sweet, 272 pgs. Feiwel and Friends, 2015. $17.99. Language: PG-13 (37 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: R. Laurel and her friend Viv have gotten the chance of a lifetime to sail on a cruise with hundreds of celebrities, trying out the newest weight loss craze. The diet sweetener, Solu, promises rapid weight loss results really fast, and celebrities and the wealthy from around the world have been recruited to try it for the first time and debut it to the rest of the world. The problem is that Laurel doesn’t dislike the way she looks. She knows she could be more lean, but she’s ok with her appearance. Her friend Viv though, is totally gung-ho about the diet plan and can’t wait to jump in as soon as possible. While the two friends explore the ship, they bump into the host of the festivities, former child star, Tom Fiorelli. Tom and Laurel have an instant connection and are drawn to each other throughout the voyage. Laurel and Tom both have misgivings about Solu and neither of them decide to try it. Luckily, this turns out to be a very wise choice as Solu is very addictive. So addictive, that the crew and passengers begin to kill for it. This all turns out to be a plot by Solu’s creator to seek revenge on world for a damaging lawsuit. As Laurel and Tom turn out to be some of the only non-users of Solu, they have to find a way off the ship to warn the world of Solu’s horrific potential.
Written from both the point of view of Laurel and Tom, in alternating chapters, the reader sees how the damaging effects of Solu play out. The love story that plays out between them is pretty cliche, but will definitely appeal to a certain demographic of readers. From my standpoint, the varying story lines didn’t seem to be very necessary to the story or have much purpose in the long run. The violence gets a bit gruesome and the Solu-addicted passengers become kind of vampire/zombie versions of themselves in their efforts to get Solu from one another. I thought most of the story was best described as ridiculous, but seemed to get overwhelmingly so when the evil plot is discovered by the main characters. This is paranormal romance that will have an appeal with certain readers for sure, but I think there are much better options out there, that are slightly more believable and better written. There is an opening for a sequel. HS- OPTIONAL. Reviewed by Shay, School Librarian