Eat Your Heart Out
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐
"In the next few hours, one of three things will happen.
1--We'll be rescued (unlikely)
2--We'll freeze to death (maybe)
3--We'll be eaten by thin and athletic zombies (odds: excellent)
Vivian Ellenshaw is fat, but she knows she doesn't need to lose weight, so she's none too happy to find herself forced into a weight-loss camp's van with her ex-best friend, Allie, a meathead jock who can barely drive, and the camp owner's snobby son. And when they arrive at Camp Featherlite at the start of the worst blizzard in the history of Flagstaff, Arizona, it's clear that something isn't right.
Vee barely has a chance to meet the other members of her pod, all who seem as unhappy to be at Featherlite as she does, when a camper goes missing down by the lake. Then she spots something horrifying outside in the snow. Something...that isn't human. Plus, the camp's supposed "miracle cure" for obesity just seems fishy, and Vee and her fellow campers know they don't need to be cured. Of anything.
Even worse, it's not long before Camp Featherlite's luxurious bungalows are totally overrun with zombies. What starts out as a mission to unravel the camp's secrets turns into a desperate fight for survival--and not all of the Featherlite campers will make it out alive."
Eat Your Heart Out is a standalone YA horror novel by Kelly deVos.
Discussions of body positivity all wrapped up in a zombie novel, I was hoping that this take on a classic story would work for me. It was the author's intention, through the use of satire and dramatization, to show how damaging fatphobia is. Where this went wrong for me, however, was just how far out this story went.
I don't think this book knew exactly what it wanted to do. The characters delved too far into archetypes, the story was too big, and the format of the book was just all over the place. It wasn't bad, per se, but it didn't have a whole lot going for it.
Now, let's get into the details.
The format for this book was all over the place, and it did end up ruining the reading experience for me.
There was an egregious amount of ellipses (...) that were neither visually appealing to see nor fun to read. Some sentences were a bit jumpy, as in they switched subjects too suddenly. There were a lot of short sentences, sometimes even singular words, that would take up the entire line. Every new sentence was also intended, and there were an unnecessary amount of sentences, and therefore an unnecessary amount of indents.
This also did something that, frankly, I have only seen in poorly written fanfiction. One of the characters was trying to make a documentary, so when it was her perspective the text would sometimes be written out like a script with different fonts and dialogue lines come after a person's name is stated.
There were a larger amount of perspectives than I would have liked, and they changed rather frequently which was a bit disorienting. Chapters, on average, were only a couple of pages which was not nearly enough to make the story effective.
There are also curses in this if that is something that bothers you.
I will start with something (partly) positive. How this book starts both works and doesn't work. Why it doesn't I will get into later, but it does work because it starts at a point in time that feels comfortable. The reader doesn't need a lot of context for this story, so by briefly starting in the middle of everything and then winding back to when they were first arriving at the camp works fine.
Onto the issues I had, this story was a bit too ambitious. As you went on, the story became more layered and complex, and I'm not 100% convinced that the story needed nor did it benefit from a complex plot. I felt like it was just too far of a reach, and should have been contained a bit more and simplified.
There were also some elements that, even for a zombie satire, were still a bit ridiculous or nonsensical and ended up pulling me out of the story. The story is set in motion because of a series of circumstances. A massive snowstorm, no cell reception, no power, and a group of zombies running around all at the same time. Not very likely.
Overall, there wasn't much about this story that made it stand out, at least in a positive way.
I think there was a grand total of one character that I thought was decent. There were simply just too many perspectives that shifted too quickly for me to form any sort of attachment. That is made worse when you know right off the bat that very few of them are likely to survive. Aside from that, I just didn't think that the characters were interesting to read about.
Speaking of survival though, I don't think the way characters died was handled particularly well. Connections between the characters themselves and between the reader just were not established enough for the deaths to make a meaningful impact. It doesn't help that when a character died, it would be told from their perspective, and then be cut off at the moment they were about to be offed.
A detail that bothered me was that this novel tried to evoke a similar format to other meta-horror movies. What I mean by that is more often than not, the characters are referred to by the horror movie archetype they fall under. For example, you have the action girl, the jerk and the courageous captain to name a few. At first, I thought this was an interesting idea, but it lost its charm rather quickly as the characters were constantly referred to by their archetype to the point of annoyance.
I don't know if a textual book was the best way to tell this story. I think this would have worked better as a graphic novel. Sure, it would be a slightly different demographic because it would be more gruesome in picture form, but maybe would result in a more interesting story.
If you want a good isolated zombie story, I highly (highly) recommend that you watch Train to Busan instead. It is a fantastic piece of cinema and is one of the best zombie stories out there in my opinion.
Also, if you want something that also relies heavily on the use of horror archetypes, then I would just stick with the classics and watch the Scream series or Cabin in the Woods.