Easy to devour in one sitting, this tongue-and-cheek account of a BMI-obsessed society is both laughable and cringe-inducing. Like a truly dystopian tale, author Mark A. Rayner takes one of society’s sticking points and makes it the backbone of a not too distant future. This seemingly laughable premise raises larger questions about free will, body dysmorphia, and just how much the government should mind its citizens.
THE FATNESS unfolds in the confines of a Canadian Calorie Reduction Centre (CRC) where people with a BMI greater than 30 are sent to lose weight. These jail-like institutions operate like psychiatric hospitals of the past – with prescribed meals, activities, counselors and an overarching theme of shame-based motivation. Many people in the CRC have been in and out of institutions and some feel their prospects of re-joining the “normal” world are hopeless. Rayner paints them as literally larger-than-life, three-dimensional characters with their own backstories and quirks. Readers will relate to the struggles of yo-yo dieting, coupled with the immense pressure to conform to societal standards – whether they want to or not.
The story follows Kee as fights off his McDonald’s cravings, while suffering through crash diets of celery and apples. Unsatisfied with more than his nutrient-deprived meals, Kee uncovers CRC secrets stashed away like last year’s Halloween candy. Although not self-righteous, Kee calls it as he sees it and realizes that the institution behind the CRC and the CRCs themselves must change. After wading through the bureaucratic process, Kee uncovers the bitter truth behind the institution, as well as the ragtag gang of fatties dealing fast food and covering their tracks with a trail of French fry grease.
Kee catches the eye of Jacinda, an attractive lawyer investigating the CRCs for corruption, and their relationship grows as Kee’s waistline shrinks. But Jacinda isn’t just the hero’s love interest, she has her own inner demons to battle as she fights to stay out of the CRC herself. A capable lawyer and curvy lady, Jacinda is one of the few “normies” fighting for justice and is willing to put her job and her freedom on the line for love.
THE FATNESS is a story of socialism gone wrong, set amid a plausible backdrop with witty characters who will steal your heart and snag your cheeseburger if you’re not careful.
~Veronica An for IndieReader