The Body Institute
Author: Carol Riggs
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: September 1st, 2015
Summary from Goodreads: Meet Morgan Dey, one of the top teen Reducers at The Body Institute.
Thanks to cutting-edge technology, Morgan can temporarily take over another girl’s body, get her in shape, and then return to her own body—leaving her client slimmer, more toned, and feeling great. Only there are a few catches…
For one, Morgan won’t remember what happens in her “Loaner” body. Once she’s done, she won’t recall walks with her new friend Matt, conversations with the super-cute Reducer she’s been text-flirting with, or the uneasy feeling she has that the director of The Body Institute is hiding something. Still, it’s all worth it in the name of science. Until the glitches start…
Suddenly, residual memories from her Loaner are cropping up in Morgan’s mind. She’s feeling less like herself and more like someone else. And when protests from an anti–Body Institute organization threaten her safety, she’ll have to decide if being a Reducer is worth the cost of her body and soul…
This book had an incredibly interesting premise, and I thought it was written very well. Set in the future, we start off with our main character, Morgan Dey, a teen Reducer at The Body Institute, who is finishing off a job in a loaner body.
Before I continue, let’s talk a little bit about The Body Institute. The Body Institute is an agency that works with overweight citizens to help them lose weight – in a very interesting way. Since being overweight is such a terrible thing in the future (the government gives fines and higher tax rates for anyone who is overweight or has a child who is overweight), The Body Institute is doing its part to help out. We have Loaners, who are the ones needing to lose the weight. The doctors at The Body Institute make a copy of their brain map and save it, so that the Reducer’s brain map can be put in the Loaner’s body. Once the Loaner’s brain map has been copied and stored, they also make a copy of the Reducer’s brain map, and then place that into the brain of the Loaner body. The Reducer’s body is placed in stasis, as their brain map will be occupying the Loaner body. So when the assignment is complete and the Reducer has lost the weight for he Loaner, the brain maps are placed back in the proper bodies, and it’s like waking up from a good night’s sleep – the Reducer gets paid (and has no memories of being in the Loaner’s body, since the copy of the brain map is made while they are still in their own body), and the Loaner is quite a few pounds lighter.
Sounds pretty nifty, right?
Well, Morgan’s family is in some pretty deep debt, and she wants to go to tech school. Only, she can’t afford to go to tech school since she can’t get a grant to go, and her family is struggling with some bills, and they’re about to lose their house and have to move. The Body Institute is looking for teen Reducers for their new program, and they pay pretty well. Plus Morgan did so well with the first job she did for them, that she decides to do it again to help out her family and maybe get herself to tech school. Sounds like a pretty easy arrangement. Although she only did a Reducer job for three months the first time around, the new girl she will be reducing for has double the weight to lose, and Morgan will be spending six months in her body this time around. While her parents aren’t too keen on the idea (and her grandfather thinks it’s a terrible idea), Morgan is adamant about going through with it, so she does.
While reducing for the new girl, Jodine, Morgan faces some pretty nasty protesters (who even resort to violence to get their point across), dealing with Jodine’s family (who pretty much do nothing except list all of their issues with Jodine), and trying to figure out what’s going on with the weird residual memories that she keeps experiencing (Jodine’s memories). Dealing with these things is becoming difficult for Morgan, and she isn’t sure if she should end her assignment early and just take the credits she has earned and go home to her family, or if she should tough it out and try and do what she can.
Only she doesn’t really have enough time to make that decision, because tragedy strikes and she is faced with a whole new list of problems – ones that will change who she is forever.
I really enjoyed this book. I’m not going to go into any details about the stuff that happens in the second half of this book, because I don’t want to spoil some pretty important things that make the book worth reading to find out about. Just trust me when I say that I didn’t really see the book taking some of the turns that it took, and the ending was not something I could see coming. Too often you read books with predictable endings, and this is not one of them. It blew me away. It made me feel all kinds of emotions, and I’m still not sure if I’m happy with the ending or not – but at the same time, it really did need to end the way it did to make the story. This book also kind of scared me – is this what our world is going to come to in the future?
Definitely check this one out. It’s worth the read!
Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
I’m a YA writer represented by Kelly Sonnack of Andrea Brown Literary. My sci-fi novel THE BODY INSTITUTE explores the themes of society, identity, and body image. I live in the beautiful, green state of Oregon and have a Studio Arts degree; I’m an SCBWI member.
You’ll usually find me in my writing cave, surrounded by my dragon collection and the characters in my head. I also enjoy reading–mostly young adult novels–as well as drawing, painting, and quilting. I also attend writing conferences, walk with my husband, and enjoy music and dance of all kinds.