Happy New Year, everyone!
I know that this past year was quite unpredictable, with many ups and downs. I hope that this year will have more ups than downs, and I hope that these book reviews continue to bring you some joy like it did to me, when writing them.
For the first book review of this year, I’m kicking it off with reviewing “Fitness Junkie” by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza! I figured it was fitting first book to review, given that a common New Years’ Resolution is to go on diets and/or get fit in some way. This novel touches on that topic through its satirical humour.
Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“When Janey Sweet, CEO of a couture wedding dress company, is photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a bruffin–the delicious lovechild of a brioche and a muffin–her best friend and business partner, Beau, gives her an ultimatum: Lose thirty pounds or lose your job.
Sure, Janey has gained some weight since her divorce, and no, her beautifully cut trousers don’t fit like they used to, so Janey throws herself headlong into the world of the fitness revolution, signing up for a shockingly expensive workout pass, baring it all for Free the Nipple yoga, sweating through boot camp classes run by Sri Lankan militants and spinning to the screams of a Lycra-clad instructor with rage issues.
At a juice shop she meets Jacob, a cute young guy who takes her dumpster-diving outside Whole Foods on their first date. At a shaman’s tea ceremony she meets Hugh, a silver fox who holds her hand through an ayahuasca hallucination And at a secret exercise studio Janey meets Sara Strong, the wildly popular workout guru whose special dance routine has starlets and wealthy women flocking to her for results that seem too good to be true. As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can’t help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place?”
Plot Development: 3.5 out of 5 stars
If you’re a reader who doesn’t follow health fads closely, get ready to be wowed. Moments like clay-eating, drinking weird juices and odd workouts are scattered everywhere in this story. I understand that this is satire, so some details are probably exagerrated. However, including all of these extreme details help mes, as a reader, think about how health fads and other associated things affect the way people think about others’ appearances and/or overall health. I think the book did a great job through its plotline to make me, as a reader, think about that.
The overall plot is simple, with Janey trying to lose weight to keep her half (more like 49%) of the company and she ends up realizing that she doesn’t need to do any of that to be happy and/or successful. However, the sideplots, such as exploring Janey’s past romantic history and her history with Beau, and even a sideplot about Sara Strong’s previous client that comes to light later on in the story, help carry the main story along and make it enjoyable to read.
I do think that the main story ends somewhat abruptly. Janey almost-immediately quits fad dieting after it turns out that she lost weight unhealthily (as well as a few other spoiler-related events). I thought it would be a bigger struggle for Janey to stop getting into all the health fads she got into in the first place. Instead, it’s too-easily wrapped up in two or three chapters after she quits for good. I understand that the book headed into the last part of the story by then. However, I felt like there could be more development in Janey’s struggle to stop fad dieting and just be fine with regular eating.
Character Development: 4 out of 5 stars
What makes this book stand out are the characters, for sure. They carried the entire story, even with the lack of plot development. I really enjoyed reading Janey overall. She knows that the health fads and/or diets she gets into to lose weight are ridiculous, and yet she goes along for the ride anyway. This is partially to keep her job, which I’m pretty sure should be illegal in real life, but apparently this is something that’s actually in her contract. It’s fun to see her get swept up in all of these health fads and/or diets. However, I also enjoyed reading her more vulnerable moments, such as her past marriage, and her friendship with Beau.
The side characters were also enjoyable to read. CJ was the most enjoyable, mainly because of how supportive of a friend she was to Janey. I just loved reading how outrageous Sara Sweet was. Her sideplot was intriguing, as it somewhat mirrors Janey’s toxic friendship with Beau. I think it was a deliberate choice to have that friendship mirror Janey and Beau’s working and personal relationship. This is because Janey herself drew from that knowledge (as well as a lot of other factors) when making the choices she did by the end of the book.
However, I do think some characters (Hugh and Jacob for example) could use more development. I just found them playing ‘flat’ roles in the story where they didn’t have much development and mainly were there for plot devices.
Overall, I’m rating this book 4 out of 5 stars!
This is definitely an enjoyable, comedic satire novel to read overall. Some characters could use more development, and the plot could be tighter, but this is still a fun read.
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