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Thinner Than Thou (Alex Awards) Hardcover – June 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765307626
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765307620
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.2 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,071,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Reed (@expectations) rips into the dangerous pursuit of body perfection at the expense of the soul in this stinging and mordantly witty satire. In the too-near future (watch out, Dr. Phil!), the Reverend Earl, a godlike "guru of the good life," broadcasts from his Glass Cathedral, promoting the nirvana of the "Afterfat," which can only be achieved by following his bible's formula of relentless exercise, cosmetic interventions and use of his special dietary supplement. A cast of delicious characters, caught like insects in day-glo amber, features bewildered twin teens Betz and Danny Abercrombie. The brothers are searching for their anorexic sister Annie, who's been shipped off to a convent created by Earl for sinners with eating disorders and run by the very scary Dedicated Sisters. Their confused but well-meaning mom turns for help to an eccentric underground railroad of religious clerics of various denominations who would love to see Earl destroyed before he launches his next program, Solutions. In the rousing endgame, aging stockbroker Jeremy Devlin enters Earl's high-ticket desert spa to lose weight and discovers the dark heart at the core of Earl's empire. With this sharp-eyed look at America's obsession with image, Reed provides much food for thought and reaffirms her position as one of our brightest cultural commentators.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Imagine a not-so-distant future in which idolatry of everything youthful, perfect, and beautiful has become the only religion, and natural aging, with its spare-tire midriffs, cheesy thighs, and wrinkly faces, is a punishable sin. Such is the perfect setting for the megalomaniacal Reverend Earl to thrive and prosper. From coast to coast, Reverend Earl's luxury spa, Sylphania, is all the rage, and to it the overweight flock for personally supervised weight-loss programs and plenty of preaching on the heavenly state of the Afterfat. For troubled teens suffering with anorexia, bulimia, and overweight, there are the reverend's "convents," in which the "proper" ways to eat and think are taught, and to one of these her parents consign anorexic Annie. When her siblings discover she's gone, and the folks won't talk, they sense big trouble. They set off with Annie's boyfriend to find her and bring her home. Unlikely people, in particular an underground network of religions that recalls a time when gods, not flesh, were worshipped, help them. Reed's visionary tale is brilliant, though at times painful to read. Still, the main characters all come to realize their strengths, who they are, and what is really important. Paula Luedtke
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

Too fat or too thin, and you get locked up until the "problem" gets resolved.
slash fan
First of all, notwithstanding her somewhat effective projections of current social behavior, Reed has not created a very believable future society.
So much could have been done with this idea without going off the deep end with it, as she did.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By slash fan on December 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
You know, when I saw this book I was really intrigued by the premise. Science fiction where the premise is a dystopian future that values body image above--almost to the exclusion of--everything else. Too fat or too thin, and you get locked up until the "problem" gets resolved.

I was excited to read this book. Unfortunately, by page ten, I was rolling my eyes.

This is a bad book. And it's bad on multiple levels. First of all, it's preachy as hell. And I say that as someone who, initially, agreed with Reed's premise (i.e., our nation's focus on body image is destructive). When you're preaching to the choir, and the choir is yawning and rolling their eyes? You're too preachy.

Second, Reed has a love affair with exclamation points and present tense in this book. Neither is a healthy relationship. The dialogue... well... I can tell that she's trying to go for ultra realistic dialogue, but here's the thing. Ultra realistic dialogue makes for horrible prose. Rendering every vocal pause, every 'um', every 'like', does not make your writing interesting. Want proof? "...We pay through the nose to look better and none of it really works... And every lousy bit of originated here. It's also. Agh. Ah." The woman is grieving. She can hardly get out the words. When she does they come up like a little fusillade of hair balls. "Ack. The endgame phase of Solutions is here."This is a major dramatic moment in the book, and I spent it trying to figure out if the 'agh' was supposed to be back in the throat or farther forward. And also? 'Ack' will kill any dramatic tension around it.

Also, for a book that purports to be so body image positive, her portrayals of fat characters are absolutely appalling. Enraging, even.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Snark Shark on January 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
There, I just saved you 300+ pages of reading.

Maybe it's just that my expectations for "Thinner Than Thou" were so high, there had to be the inevitable backlash. I read the interior flap on this book and was so excited by the description, I greedily devoured it in a day or so. But I probably should have asked for a taster menu.

Okay, enough of the trying to be cute.

Reed has imagination and the skill to back it up. She creates interesting events with quirky characters to grab your attention and hold on tight. Her world-building has a wicked sense of humor; in a dystopia where Thin Is In, teenagers have competitive eating contests instead of drag races, and the televangelist isn't preaching God but a miracle diet complete with the heavenly Afterfat -- an existence where you eat all you want but never gain a pound.

Sound exciting? It is. And if you just look at these aspects, "Thinner" is a very amusing book that delights in poking holes in the mass-media culture that worships heroin chic and plastic-surgery poster girls. But it doesn't hold anything deeper, in terms of social commentary, than any thirteen-year-old girl knows from self-esteem books/articles/classes/after-school specials. And Reed's right -- you should love who you are, regardless of what you look like, and if anybody tries to say you're somehow wrong or disgraceful because of extra pounds you can give them a roundhouse kick with my blessing. But I still wouldn't reccomend this book.

In trying to prove her point with extremes of black and white, Reed wanders into dangerous grey areas. When did conditions like anorexia or morbid obesity become personal statements instead of health problems? Never. They never-ever did.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
THINNER THAN THOU may depict a futuristic dystopia, but a great deal of it is uncomfortably close to home as it takes America's obsession with weight and beauty and stretches it only a little to give us a portrait of the horrible place at the end of the highway down which we are now speeding.
With the evolution of such plastic surgery shows as THE SWAN, surgery and liposuction are being touted as acceptable, if not expected processes in every day life. Weight has been an issue in the media since at least the Sixties and with Hollywood stars now starving themselves to create an even thinner ideal, the idea of a normal body has become skewed to the grotesque.
Thinner Than Thou celebrates those who have been forced into these ideals and the torture required to obtain them and, despite crippling disabilities (anorexia, morbid obesity), these heroes have the strength and the will to fight back. Every aspect of America's obsession with food, from self-starvation to eating contests to the everyday torture of talking ourselves out of that extra cookie is explored and celebrated, for this bleak view of the future is taken with a grain of salt and, more importantly, a fabulous sense of humor.
Ms. Reed has long been a spokeswoman for the American Woman, but she may just have been promoted to being the spokeswoman for the American consciousness. A great book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By CynMill6 on June 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Failing to conform to the "ideal" body shape already FEELS like a crime in America, so it's easy to imagine a time when it will actually be a crime. Beauty isn't's the ONLY thing. So don't be surprised when gym memberships, facelifts and weight-reducing herbal supplements become compulsory.
Taking on the beauty obsession from several different angles, Reed provides a fresh perspective on something that preoccupies most people, whether they admit it or not.
Thinner Than Thou has several vibrant, well-rounded characters and a simple plot that keeps you involved with each of the story-lines. The only place I found it to drift from the realm of the possible was in its discussion of religion. I strongly disagree that Americans will ever replace religion with the cult of beauty, and I cite the dozens of faith-based diets as evidence enough of that.
This book would have gotten a solid 5 stars from me, if not for the ending. Like many satirists and social commentators, Reed isn't sure where to take us to provide a satisfying resolution. Though the very last line is excellent, the preceding climax rings false.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Kit Reed woke up one morning with an amazing pitch line for her mysterious new novel WHERE. "Everybody on Kraven Island is gone. Even they don't know where." This from a self-proclaimed "trans-genred" writer, translation: "I don't belong anywhere." Her work covers the waterfront-- comic novels, SF, psychothrillers, psychological, i.e. character-driven fiction, you name it. She's been there.

WHERE follows two distinguished 2013 publications, THE STORY UNTIL NOW, a Shirley Jackson award nominee from the Wesleyan University Press, and her novel SON OF DESTRUCTION, from Severn House, titles praised in Financial Times, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal and in the New York Times Book Review, Chelsea Cain writes, "Reed finds humanity in the most fantastic places. She does it without pretension. And she does it with a sense of humor and no apologies. In my Museum of American Writers, I'd have a statue of Kit Reed in the lobby..."

In Vanity Fair, Elissa Schappell wrote: "The Story Until Now unleashes new and classic stories fired by a radiant imagination."

And Reed? She writes: "Success is when you're still standing up at the end."

Her collection What Wolves Know from PS Publishing UK was also a Shirley Jackson Award nominee. Called "a gripping dystopian thriller" in a starred review in Publishers Weekly, Reed's novels, Enclave, The Baby Merchant and Thinner Than Thou, a winner of the A.L.A. Alex Award, and her collection, Dogs of Truth, are available in trade paperback and on Kindle and other online platforms. The New York Times Book Review has this to say about her work: "Most of these stories shine with the incisive edginess of brilliant cartoons... they are less fantastic than visionary." Other novels include @​expectations, Captain Grownup, Fort Privilege, Catholic Girls, J. Eden and Little Sisters of the Apocalypse. She's had stories in, among others, The Yale Review, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Omni and The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Literature. Her books Weird Women, Wired Women and Little Sisters of the Apocalypse were finalists for the Tiptree Prize.

A member of the board of the Authors League Fund and a longtime member of the National Book critics Circle and PEN, she serves as Resident Writer at Wesleyan University.