SWEET by Emmy Laybourne


Age Range: 13 & up
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Celebrities, romance, and carnage on the high seas.

It’s pretty skeevy for a meet-cute, but when 17-year-old Laurel vomits on 19-year-old Tom’s shoes, it’s destiny—and foreshadows flavors to come. Laurel’s on this luxury weight-loss cruise to keep a friend company; Tom’s there as a television host, trying to wrangle his child-star career into something more serious. The ritzy cruise is sponsored by Solu, a sugar substitute and weight-loss catalyst that’s supposedly a “solu”-tion for fatness. Tom declines Solu because of his strict “clean eating” diet; Laurel declines from seasickness and wariness. At first, Solu’s effects are merely preposterous, causing a 13-pound weight loss in two days. But soon passengers become walking, tooth-dropping cadavers, so addicted—think heroin times meth times vampires—that they’re rioting and committing frenzied murder to drink one another’s Solu-filled blood. With former competitors from Survivor and The Bachelorette aboard, the who-will-survive plot works well, fast-paced yet farcically cheesy. (Tom can identify someone’s “schizoid break” because “I did a guest star on Criminal Minds”; then again, according to Laurel, he’s “so frickin’ manly.”) Tom and Laurel alternate narrating, their first-person voices indistinguishable. The wealthy passengers’ superior obliviousness seeps into the text, as when Laybourne calls the multiracial ship crew “a walking United Nations” and a black girl “strong and angry.”

A glitzy bloodbath with the most ironic title ever. (Horror. 13 & up)

Pub Date: June 2nd, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-250-05519-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2015


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