Official Review: The Fatness by Mark A. Rayner

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katiesquilts
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Official Review: The Fatness by Mark A. Rayner

Post by katiesquilts » 07 Mar 2018, 23:31

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Fatness" by Mark A. Rayner.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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In The Fatness, Mark A. Rayner describes a Canada where everything is dictated by BMI. In an attempt to improve overall health of its citizens, the Canadian government created Calorie Reduction Centers (CRCs) where citizens with BMIs over 30 could focus on their diets and learn better eating and exercise habits. Everything would be voluntary, of course. The only catch would be that if the citizens entered the program and couldn't lose weight within two years, their employers would be able to fire them. Oh, and the whole, "Fat people can't have health insurance" thing. That made things pretty involuntary for most people.

Unable to pay for his own medical insurance and willing to lose weight, Keelan Cavanaugh entered the CRCs almost two years ago. The day where he may lose his job is looming on the horizon, and yet he's still more than a few pounds away from the magical BMI of 30. Then he meets the beautiful and slim Jacinda Williams, a lawyer who is researching the CRCs. The two fall in love despite the overwhelming difference in their waists, and Keelan finds the motivation and willpower he needed to lose those last few pounds and get out for good. That is until a change of hands in the CRCs' management turns his live-in diet resort into a literal prison.

The Fatness is hysterically funny, taking the side of the fatties (and if you think that's offensive, you should see some of the other names they're called) and pointing out the flaws in both social and weight-loss systems that keep them from losing weight. The satire is witty and surprisingly sharp, coming from a Canadian. In fact, the passive-aggressive natures of the characters, who were under a large amount of stress, coupled with the back-handed insults were what made this book so funny. Rayner also did a good job calling out the health and food industry for all the things we know they're doing wrong, and yet forgive them for anyway because we're addicted to something they provide.

Besides the satire, I really enjoyed the way Rayner built upon the plot, taking a simple story of progress and determination and adding in twists and turns. I thought he handled the pacing very well, drawing on his own experiences in weight loss to create a realistic story that any reader could empathize with.

In terms of weaknesses, the book had a few small errors, mostly with regards to punctuation and spacing. Also, I personally had a hard time understanding some of the things Max, another main character, was saying. I'm not sure if it's because he was referring to Canadian things and I'm American, or if it was because he was on recreational hallucinogens and didn't make much sense to begin with. In any case, I didn't have any problems understanding the gist of things and probably wrote him off as much as the other characters did.

I had a great time reading The Fatness. I sympathized so much with Keelan and his struggles, hanging on to every word to see what would happen next, how corrupt the system could become. I would absolutely give The Fatness 4 out of 4 stars despite the minor errors sparsed throughout the book. I would also highly recommend it to friends and family members, as well as anyone who's struggling or who has ever struggled to lose weight. However, there are brief mentions of sex and drugs, so I would not recommend it to younger readers.

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The Fatness
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Post by kandscreeley » 08 Mar 2018, 09:24

You know, this does sound really funny. It seems like there is an OVER emphasis on weight in our society - whether over or under. Sometimes I think if we made it less of a focus, we wouldn't have as much of a problem. Anyway, I appreciate the review.
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Post by GabbiV » 08 Mar 2018, 10:46

I tend to get defensive whenever I see media portraying being fat as unhealthy/bad, so I'm glad this satire piece was received well by you. The book seems like it could open a few people's eyes to the microaggressions fat people experience every day. Good review!

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Post by DancingLady » 08 Mar 2018, 11:02

That sounds like an excellent light hearted way to address some of the over-the-top emphasis on weight going around. I know where I live there are a lot of very nutritionally educated people as well as exercisers, so the percent of obesity is much lower than just a few miles up the highway. I totally understand where this could be coming from though, because in the mainstream media, you only get quick fixes that don’t work, not real education to help people overcome the problem.

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Post by Jonida » 08 Mar 2018, 11:24

It would be great if my government could apply some politics in help of obese people, because nowdays their number is increasing. Your review gives the positive impact that love has in such cases... and the fact that this book is funny makes it much more interesting.

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Post by Miriam Molina » 10 Mar 2018, 00:26

What a fun review! That two people can fall in love despite their waist differences had me chuckling. I think I would have lots of fun with The Fatness.

P.S. The cover depicting French fries to keep count and the subtitle A Novel of Epic Portions are a big hit with me. I know I shouldn't, but I love those sinful sticks.

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Post by katiesquilts » 10 Mar 2018, 10:04

DancingLady wrote:
08 Mar 2018, 11:02
I know where I live there are a lot of very nutritionally educated people as well as exercisers, so the percent of obesity is much lower than just a few miles up the highway. I totally understand where this could be coming from though, because in the mainstream media, you only get quick fixes that don’t work, not real education to help people overcome the problem.
I totally understand! I live in Japan, where people who have actually meaty arms instead of sticks with hands are considered "overweight." It doesn't help that many Japanese people are short, either, so many of them just appear larger when they're at a healthy weight. In the past few years, though, I've noticed more and more people who seem to be more obese than just overweight. Since Japan already strictly regulates people's weight starting from kindergarden, the CRCs seem like something they'd be willing to try...

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Post by katiesquilts » 10 Mar 2018, 10:05

Miriam Molina wrote:
10 Mar 2018, 00:26
P.S. The cover depicting French fries to keep count and the subtitle A Novel of Epic Portions are a big hit with me. I know I shouldn't, but I love those sinful sticks.
Thank you for your kind words! And I agree, the cover was what caught my attention in the first place! I'm also not ashamed to admit that I went to a McDonalds after finishing this book... :lol:

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Post by Penny Lee » 12 Mar 2018, 14:22

The Fatness sounds like an intriguing and potentially realistic dystopian book! Our culture's focus on weight and weight loss can be considered extreme. The concept of "Calorie Reduction Centers" (which later turn into prisons) is both realistic and unsettling. Your review makes me want to read this book, particularly based on your comment that's the author's "satire is witty and surprisingly sharp." Thanks for the great review!
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Post by GabbiV » 12 Mar 2018, 14:41

Jonida wrote:
08 Mar 2018, 11:24
It would be great if my government could apply some politics in help of obese people, because nowdays their number is increasing. Your review gives the positive impact that love has in such cases... and the fact that this book is funny makes it much more interesting.
Yeah, if there was some sort of incentive from our government, such as lower taxes etc., I think more people would be interested in preventative measures.

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Post by CatInTheHat » 12 Mar 2018, 17:16

I was not expecting "funny" when I opened up your review. Your review definitely makes it sound like a worthy read for many people.
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Post by Jaunty John » 12 Mar 2018, 17:25

Yes even though it's the primary role of a government to see to the great upkeep of her citizens through provision of good environment that sustains security and highest good of the majority, and in my opinion I think it would be too burdensome to relegate such personal issue to the he government. Enjoyed the book but was punctuated with some trivial errors. Nice piece.

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Post by bookowlie » 16 Mar 2018, 11:54

Great review! I am going to take a look at the sample, since the premise of the book sounds interesting and I like a little humor in a story. It's also intriguing that the author explores the role of the health and food industries.
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Post by FilmStar » 26 May 2018, 10:16

A dystopian about weight loss. Sounds like a Black Mirror episode to me. I could be into this.

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Post by gali » 26 May 2018, 10:16

What an original premise for a book! Putting people in detention center for being overweight, and not paying their health insurance until the lose weight, sure is refreshing. One can't but feel for Keelan and his struggles. Sounds like a funny satire. Too bad about the few errors and the unclear language. Thank you for the review!
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