I’m always ready for a story with a strong revenge plot, so I was super excited to get my hands on a copy of Waisted, the latest novel from author Randy Susan Meyers. I dove in, eager to get lost in a story rife with revenge, but sadly, the novel didn’t deliver quite what I was expecting.
All her life, Daphne has longed to be thin like her mother and sister, but no matter what new diet she tries or how much she exercises, she seems unable to lose weight. Now a mother of two teenagers, Daphne has reached the end of her rope. There has to be something that will help her to lose weight. She doesn’t care how radical the trick might be. If it promises to make her thin, she’s willing to try it.
Alice used to be thin, but once she got married and gave birth to her daughter, she started gaining weight at what her husband thinks of as an alarming rate. Alice has tried talking to him, explaining that she’s happy and healthy at her current size, but he refuses to listen. He tells her he can’t stay married to her if she doesn’t lose the weight she’s put on over the past few years. Alice is understandably devastated by this, and so, she begins searching for something to help her in record time.
A new reality TV show called Waisted catches the attention of both women. It’s a month-long program that promises to help guests lose weight quickly. Both Alice and Daphne think it’s exactly what they need to assist them in meeting their goals, so they both pack their bags and head off to the show, ready to do whatever they have to in order to shed some pounds.
But life as a part of the Waisted program isn’t at all what Alice and Daphne expected it to be. There are a total of seven women participating, and each is subjected to unhealthy amounts of exercise, excessive calorie restriction, and both verbal and emotional abuse. Despite their determination to be thin, Alice and Daphne begin to doubt the effectiveness of the program, and when they sneak into the office of the show’s creator, they learn a terrible truth about what they’ve become involved in. Now, both women are desperate to sever all ties with Waisted, and once they’re back home, they cook up a plan to get even with those who treated them so poorly.
This is a difficult book to review. It deals with some extremely delicate subject matter, and I wasn’t always sure the author was handling the issues faced by the characters with as much sensitivity as she could – and should – have. The general narrative doesn’t actually poke fun at plus-sized women, but there were several instances when I felt some of her own biases might be getting in the way of her story. Each of the contestants is shown to be incredibly desperate and needy, almost to the point of feeling like a stereotype. True, Alice and Daphne eventually come up with a way of getting even, but the author wasn’t able to make me feel their empowerment. Instead, it felt more like revenge for the sake of it rather than as a way for them to come into their own.
I might have viewed this novel more favorably if I’d felt connected to any of the main characters. We’re given quite a bit of background information on both Alice and Daphne, but neither woman felt fully fleshed out. The details of their lives don’t add up to an authentic whole, and I was unable to remain invested in the characters or their problems.
I love revenge plots when they’re dramatic and empowering, but the scheme Daphne and Alice develop falls completely flat. The pacing in this part of the story is rushed, which kept me from becoming absorbed in it, and ultimately, I wanted something bigger and bolder, something that made me feel like Alice and Daphne had made a lasting impression on those who wronged them, but this wasn’t at all what happened.
This is one of those books that didn’t live up to its full potential. The synopsis was engaging, but the execution of the story itself was less than stellar.