Wednesday 2 September 2015


Title: The Body Institute
Author: Carol Riggs
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: 1st September 2015

BLURB 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…


So I discovered this one in an email from Entangled Teen, and read the description and was immediately intrigued with the whole brain map/body swap element of the book. So I was looking forward to reading and reviewing this book for my blog.

I requested and received an e-copy of this book from Entangled Teen via Netgalley. The main feature of the cover is a female and the reader has a view through the outer body into the brain inside. The very cryptic byline of "are we our minds . . .or our bodies" fits the dilemma that the main character Morgan Dey has in this book. The cover also features a skyline in the background, representing the cities featured in the book. The dark raining weather is quite fitting to the feel of the book in certain parts. 
So would I pick this book up in a bookstore purely on the cover? Yes the cover would attract my eyes enough for me to pick it up and want to learn more about it.
The Body Institute is based in the crimson zone of the city. They are partially funded by the government as the institute's work is lightening the strain on the NHS. The Body Institute's marketing slogan is "Taking The Work Out Of Your Weightless". The Body Institute employ people who are called "Reducers". These Reducers have their bodies put into some sort of sleep state, there's a much more technical explanation given in the book including something called ERT. Basically the Reducer's "brain map" is put into the brain/body of the "Loaner" (Loaner = the person who wishes to lose weight), the Loaner's "brain map" is stored on a computer until the Reducer has lost the necessary weight and toned up etc and then they both have their brain maps put back into their own bodies. The Body Institute is now trialing and marketing this way of losing weight to teenagers. This is how we meet the central character in the book, Morgan Dey. Her family which consists of her mum (Valena), dad (Greg) and Grand-dad (Bob) live in an acceptable area of the city but their rent and expenses are always being increased and with the left over debt from her Grandmother's medical bills they desperately need to find a way to earn more credits. This is why Morgan initially takes a job at the Body Institute as a reducer. The money from the job will pay some off the amount owed on the medical bill's as well as start a fund for Morgan to go to Tech School which is her dream.In fact she does so well in her first job as a reducer that the teen she loses weight for becomes the poster girl for The Body Institutes Teen Program. Doing so well at her first job at the Institute is also one of the reason's she is asked back, this time the job will take 6 months and she will get to live off site of the Institute and live in the Loaner's home that has a private gym and other luxury facilities to help her with the weight loss. This means leaving her family and two best friends Krista & Blair for six whole months. That will mean not being able to celebrate either her eighteenth or Christmas with them. Taking everything into consideration and the fact that her parents are being hassled for the payment of her Grandmothers medical bill, having extra taxes and interest put on it too, Morgan feel's there is only on option and that is for her to do the job. The money she would get for the job would settle all debts and leave her a good amount to help get her through Tech School too. Though her parents are reluctant for Morgan to do the job of a reducer again, they know that if they do not give permission that she will just wait until she is 18 yrs old and rejoin the program then, so they sign the necessary documents to allow her to become a reducer again. It is Morgan's grandfather that hates the Body Institute and all it stands for. I personally think Morgan's mum Valena, is somewhat blinded to the risks of being a reducer and thinks more of the credits the family will get, whereas Morgan's father Greg, seems more worried about how negatively the Body Institute could affect his daughter.
It also soon becomes apparent that the whole procedure that the Body Institute and the government are pushing is not as simple nor as safe as they are saying. There's the strange memories that Morgan keeps having that she knows are not her own. There's the fact that she has never been a nail biter but in Jodine's body she can't help but succumb to the habit. Morgan is also struggling with Jodine's hunger and binge eating patterns too.
The activists of the WHA are becoming more and more violent in their protests, Morgan ends up being attacked prior to her second "body jump". 
Whilst in Jodine's body Morgan meets up with a guy exercising in a park and sets up regular running with him. It proves it's quite "a small world" when it is later reveal that he is also a Reducer in a loaners body. They continue to meet up even though they know the Body Institute would not approve of their budding friendship/relationship. They compare what Morgan refers to as "flashbacks" with each other comparing their Reducer experiences.
Then there's the real life changing event when the WHA attack the Head Quarters where Morgan's body is lying in stasis. The building is destroyed! I can't really say anymore or anything in more detail as it would reveal major, major spoilers.  
I found the pace of the book varied quite a bit, some parts felt really slow and you felt like shouting"get on with it" and then other smaller parts felt like they could have been told in perhaps more details and had more time taken over them. The plot is quite complex but I found it really enjoyable and quite addictive reading. The book is one of those that stays with you well after finishing reading it! You do really ask yourself the question that forms the byline "are we our minds. . . or our bodies". I think I would have said "we are our minds" without any hesitation prior to reading the book, but I found myself wavering in my thoughts as I read more of the book. I'd be interested in what other readers would answer to the byline question both before reading the book, during and after.
So did I enjoy the book? Yes, I found it a captivating read. I mean what a concept, having someone "jump into" your body and lose your excess weight.
Would I recommend the book? Yes, it's a thought provoking read.
Would I want to read another book in this series (If it is a series)? If there was more to Morgan's story, or even another book from Leo's point of view and that of the Body Institute I would certainly be eager to read the blurb and then more than likely read the book too.
Would I want to read other titles by this author? I did enjoy the complex plot and the writing style of this book so I would take a look at any book written by this author.

A quite sad but beautiful and promising ending! I would like more from the Body Institute and the WHA too!

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. 



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