Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 1523
The Body Institute
(Updated: October 21, 2015)
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Seventeen-year-old Morgan Dey likes being a Reducer, someone who has her brain uploaded into another body in order to help overweight people loss weight. This is the 'dream job' for Morgan who feels that not only does she help people but earns quick money to help her financially straddled family. So when the director of The Body Institute asks her to do another job with even more financial incentives, she doesn't think twice. Her grandfather warns her that no amount of money is worth messing with leaving her body. His words and other things that occur around her start planting doubts in her mind. Then The Body Institute is attacked by zealots protesters. Morgan senses something with The Body Institute isn't right when glitches happen to her. She starts getting her client's memories which isn't supposed to happen. Worse, she worries if she will lose her own memories once she returns to her body. She has to decide if being a Reducer is worth it.

What worked: THE BODY INSTITUTE has a very intriguing premise. In this futuristic world, the government decides they know what's best for the people and implement fines if they are obese. The future rewards those that have the stereotypical 'perfect' body. The concept of uploading a trainer per say into another body, is frightening. I'm not sure I would want a stranger to host my body while I'm put on ice for three or more months.

Morgan starts this story by enjoying her role as a Reducer. She feels that by doing this she's able to help her financial strapped family. When she's offered another job to lose one hundred pounds in six months? She thinks the incentives will finally get her family out of debt and help her go to technical school. I liked how readers see her doubts that start off slowly with the realization of what she'll miss while hosting another body. These doubts grow and are shown in quick texts and encounters she has while in her new body.

Morgan's new host body comes along with other rules that she's not prepared for like staying with the client's family. She experiences fat shame in one scene when she's on the bus. The hostility doesn't stop there. When she goes to weigh in, she's verbal and physically attacked by protesters that are outside of The Body Institute.

The futuristic setting is shown with the rules against being overweight that feel more like a scene from the novel 1984. This society is stripped down, revealing the indifference to those that don't have the financial means to be look the way that is required. Morgan's grandfather refused to be a part of a national health care plan and the family lives to regret that choice.

There's a love interest too. Morgan 'finds' him while on a run. I really liked this relationship that weathers the changes, including one horrific reveal that turns everything Morgan thought she knew about the institute and her part of it around.

I did have issues with how fast the ending was resolved. It seemed as it things were taken care of too fast which felt a little unbelievable to me.

The idea of the government having complete control over your weight bordered being preachy at times though I did think the author did a good job showing the pitfalls when choices are taken away in totalitarian society.

And finally, I did have issues with the fat shaming that blamed the individual being overweight and not taking into account medical/hormonal issues. Maybe if it was stated that these were dismissed by the government(which unfortunately some do in our own world), it might have worked more.

The rest of the novel though is more Morgan's journey that has her arc at the end in a bittersweet way. Kuddos to the author ending the story the way she did as I felt it stayed true to Morgan's growth.

Intriguing twist of a futuristic world where a girl finds that a so-called 'dream job' of helping others lose weight has it's own terrible consequences.
Good Points
1. Intriguing premise of a futurist world that goes to the extreme on keeping people fit
2. Some haunting moments throughout

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