cover image Sweet


Emmy Laybourne. Feiwel and Friends, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-05519-4

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)