“She had tried everything–Weight Watchers, Atkins, Jenny Craig, speed–but none of them worked…”
One of the greatest things about getting my Kindle Fire is the fact that I can now, very easily (and rather cheaply, ahem) pick up the books by the authors I admire whose blogs I read and enjoy. I had three books slated as the first three to read on the handy little device, and Catherine Ryan Howard’s Results Not Typical was at the very top. I adore Howard’s blog; I find her so engaging, entertaining, and helpful, so I was really thrilled to finally download her novel (acquiring her travel memoirs won’t be too far down the line once I get through some more books), and I was not disappointed.
Not too much, anyway. Results Not Typical is the story of Slimmit, a global international weight loss company, and its potential demise in the hands of the same people who run it. The story flip-flops between a small handful of characters: Nicola, the creator and CEO of Slimmit, a walking trainwreck as she watches her dream of slim start to fade in a few too many Taco Bell binges over the weekend; Emmy, her rotund daughter sequestered away like a secret to the abysmal Travel Support department; and Marianne, Slimmit’s Director of Slimming and Nicola’s former friend, who is being not-so-veiled on her attempts to overtake the company. Naturally, at a big company like Slimmit, everyone dreads Mondays, but this Monday turns out to be nightmarish as a breakthrough new product called Lipid Loser that is supposed to revolutionize the weight loss game as we know it turns up missing and there’s a mad scramble to recover the product that may lead to Slimmit’s demise….or, even worse, new management.
I enjoyed Results Not Typical immensely, but it definitely wasn’t something deep and meaningful and life-changing (nor was I expecting it to be) and it’s not without its flaws. A lot of the characters are two dimensional at best; some of them go through some changes in the progress of the plot, but they seem very rudimentary and not necessarily deep. Most of the characters are, in fact, horrible people, but they’re pretty much intended to be, and I didn’t really necessarily like anyone in particular until closer towards the end (actually, no, that’s a lie. I absolutely adored Olga. Needs more Olga). Thankfully, with some characters (like Marianne or Aaron), their terribleness just made me really dislike them, and other characters (Emmy, for example) seemed much more…er, well-rounded (sorry, Emmy) because of their flaws. I wound up not really liking Emmy toward the end, but the reasons why I was irritated with her were very real, and she’s easily the most realistic character in the book, so I love her for that. The plot is a little ridiculous; you have to suspend your disbelief a little and it feels like there are too many strings that need to be pulled to make everything fall into place, but it is resolutely fun all the same. If you’re looking for Shakespeare or Hemingway, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for entertainment and to just disappear a little bit into a realm of suspended disbelief, though, it’s a pretty damn good choice, especially if you’ve ever had to deal with gaining weight, losing weight, diets, exercise, or mean skinny bitches (all apologies to any skinny bitches out there).
A few other random notes: I did find it distracting that Howard (who is Irish) uses European spellings in a book that I believe is supposed to be based in New York; I kept picturing us in England, especially with Emmy spouting ‘mum’ instead of ‘mom’ all the time. It’s a little super nit-picky thing, but it did make it difficult for me to immerse myself in the setting. One of my favorite aspects of the book was the fact that it managed to make me never want to eat again and completely crave scarfing down chocolate doughnuts all at once, as well as simultaneously wanting to get my own bubbly butt up to Get Thyself to a Gym and never, ever go near a diet or workout routine. As someone who’s just about given up on the weight loss thing at this time in my life, I could definitely relate to a lot of that. Seriously, though, the time this book made me hungry and want to go indulge in some Taco Bell? I’m pretty sure I was missing the point. I don’t even like Taco Bell!
And, last but not least, I think Results Not Typical could make a really, really awesome movie one day. It was easily a good literature version of a nice, fun popcorn flick. We’ll just make sure to skip the extra butter, yeah?
Books read: 1/100.
…and let it be said that writing an honest review for a book by the author of a blog you read regularly is nerve-wracking. Hoo man. Yeah. I might have been putting this off forever out of nervousness. But, hey, if you’re not reading Catherine’s blog yet, you should be, so make sure to go on over there or check out her books! The copy of Results Not Typical I’ve got also included a few chapters of her travelogues and I can’t wait to get those in the near future, too, because the samples were brilliant.
I’d also like to thank Miq for following the blog! Welcome aboard! You’re follower #50, so that’s super awesome and makes me wish I could throw confetti at you through my computer screen, but, since I can’t, have this instead: