By Kit Reed
Think The Swan has taken society’s emphasis on body image too far? The lives of the reality show’s contestants are a piece of cake compared with what goes on in Reed’s dystopia, where chubsters are forced into weight-loss “concentration camps” and anorexics, bulimics and the truly obese are kidnapped in the middle of the night by nunlike creatures who re-program them at a sinister “convent.” Since the pursuit of a perfect body becomes a kind of religion, a huckster named Reverend Earl hits it big with evangelical infomercials promising buns of steel to those who repent. With an ear for dialogue and a truly wild imagination, Reed (author of Seven for the Apocalypse) populates her scary book with believable characters including Annie Abercrombie, an anorexic teenager taken hostage by the nuns, and Kelly, the obese friend also targeted by the better-bod squad. A clever what-if, Reed’s tale is provocative as well as amusing.