Booklist Reviews 2015 April #2
Solu is a new sweetener that does double duty: it sweetens and helps people lose weight by shrinking fat cells. It's the diet invention that could help solve the world's obesity problem. To launch Solu, the makers have created an exclusive seven-day cruise, for which Laurel and her best friend, Viv, are part of the crew. Former child-star Tom Forelli is emceeing the cruise, offering the world an exclusive look at this wonder sweetener. As the cruise continues, both Laurel and Tom notice strange reactions and addictions forming in the passengers. Is Solu the miracle it's promised to be or something more deadly? The tale is told in alternating chapters, and Tom and Laurel have their own reasons for not trying Solu. Combining mystery with a bit of romance and a peek into Hollywood's obsession with being thin, Laybourne creates an interesting commentary on society's addiction to weight loss and diets. Although the real mystery and action take a while to pick up speed, the plot gains a nice momentum and will keep readers engaged. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2015 Fall
Aboard a star-studded cruise ship, Laurel's seasickness prevents her from trying Solu, a new weight-loss wonder drug. As its side effects turn the passengers, including best friend Vivika, into violent monsters, Laurel and hot celebrity Tom try to warn others before the drug's widespread release. Through alternating narrators, Laybourne addresses issues of body image and self-acceptance amidst a bloody survival story.
PW Reviews 2015 April #4
Seventeen-year-old Laurel is on the famous "Cruise to Lose," thanks to her best friend Vivika. Despite a ship packed with famous celebrities—including former child-star Tom Forelli—and affluent passengers eager to try a revolutionary new sweetener, Solu, Laurel doesn't feel pressured to shrink her size-14 body. Switching perspectives between Laurel and Tom as the seven-day trip progresses, Laybourne (Monument 14) introduces multiple characters who range from Timothy Almstead, the conniving CEO of Solu, to Jaideep, a waiter who becomes a life-saving ally. Passengers' miraculous weight loss turns deadly as the sweetener induces an addiction so intense that fights, debauchery, and cannibalism soon follow. Scared for skeletally thin Vivika and even more frightened at the prospect of Solu's global release, Tom and Laurel battle zombielike addicts to warn others about its effects. Some oversimplified dialogue and lackluster descriptions aside, Laybourne delivers a candy-coated horror novel that alternates between increasingly violent scenes and Laurel and Tom's poignant romance. Though the message is plain—love yourself as you are—the ramifications of not doing so are terrifyingly clear. Ages 13–up. Agent: Susanna Einstein, Einstein Literary Management. (June)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC