I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.
I think THE BODY INSTITUTE is a brilliant idea for a story. Doesn't it sound like a magical cure for all those extra pounds a person would want to shed? But this being a sci-fi story, you just know there's something insidious about this "fix" for obesity, especially thinking about transplanting someone into another body in order to achieve the desired results. *shudders*
I can't lie - I'd love for someone to temporarily take over my body and whip it into shape for me. But what about the girl who does it? Would my feelings about her well-being cause me to change my mind? It's not an easy answer because the solution is so tempting.
THE BODY INSTITUTE takes place in the future, and in this future, junk food is heavily taxed. If you're overweight, you pay more taxes, too. The more weight you keep on and the longer you keep it on, the more money you have to pay. Everyone has to be weighed in every so often, which is how the government tracks who's taking care of their bodies and who is not.
Morgan is a Reducer - she's one of the teens who take over the body of an overweight teen and works out until the desired number of pounds is lost. She has to eat healthy and exercise A LOT. Not only is this interesting in itself - it would have been plenty to read about - but there's even more to the plot when Morgan can't remember what she did or said during the time she's in the Loaner body.
Plus there's the parents of the girl whose body Morgan is responsible for getting in shape - they're rich, and the mother looks at Morgan with disgust. I thought it could have been how she looked at her overweight daughter AND looking at her daughter's body, knowing there's someone else in there. I had a feeling they weren't going to be getting along and looked forward to the conflict that was sure to come.
There's so many ethical issues to take into consideration when thinking about this story, and I can see junk food being taxed one day. I can see people who are overweight paying more taxes. That's what made THE BODY INSTITUTE so eerie - I could see it all happening. What if we could transplant someone's mind into someone else's body for a while? Who are we as the human race? Are we just a collection of processes taking place in the brain, or are we more than that?
Morgan's grandfather raised a great point about being human - he tells Morgan she'd be a different person if she had been born in a different body. She'd have a different personality and wouldn't be the same person as who she is today. I think that's absolutely true. A lot of who we are is influenced by things like our body shape, hair color, eye color, skin color. Look at how human beings treat each other differently on outward appearances - especially skin color. People are discriminated against everyday based on their gender or race or age.
THE BODY INSTITUTE explores so many themes - society, body image, body shaming, and even the question of how involved the government should be in the health of its citizens. You can't miss THE BODY INSTITUTE. It's an absolutely brilliant novel that will have you discussing these issues long after you're finished reading!