Thursday, August 29, 2013

Taste Test

Taste Test by Kelly Fiore
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Pages: 352
Keywords: competition, cooking, boarding school
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley provided for blog tour (thank you!)
Get It: Book Depository
If you can grill it, smoke it, or fry it, Nora Henderson knows all about it. She's been basting baby back ribs and pulling pork at her father's barbecue joint since she was tall enough to reach the counter. When she's accepted to Taste Test, a reality-television teen cooking competition, Nora can't wait to leave her humble hometown behind, even if it means saying goodbye to her dad and her best friend, Billy. Once she's on set, run-ins with her high-society roommate and the maddeningly handsome — not to mention talented — son of a famous chef, Christian van Lorten, mean Nora must work even harder to prove herself. But as mysterious accidents plague the kitchen arena, protecting her heart from one annoyingly charming fellow contestant in particular becomes the least of her concerns. Someone is conducting real-life eliminations, and if Nora doesn't figure out who, she could be next to get chopped for good.
So I actually read this during my summer biology class (which I promptly dropped after one week of torture and verbal meanness from the professor) because I sat in the back of class, and instead of listening to the professor get off track and talk about sports, I read. And guys, I started this one night during class, after the 4 hour lab I was at 80% on my Kindle. So I promptly drove home and finished it. It was that addicting.

I loved all the characters, stereotypical as they may be. There's Nora, the hometown underdog on the show; Christian, the asshole rich kid with a mysteriously soft side; Joy, the preppy elitist who has to have everything her way; Gigi, Nora's friend who sticks by her side; Billy, the hometown hero who's super cute and best friend-y. And after reading some (mean, in my opinion) reviews on Goodreads, I see that many people did not approve of Christian as a legitimate male protagonist for Nora to be halfway interested in being friends with. He is described as arrogant and almost sexually abusing Nora. I very much disagree. Christian is a playful character who responds to Nora's insisting, and she doesn't back down when he suggests something more than friendship. Their banter is highly entertaining, and I thoroughly enjoyed the competitiveness between them.

I also was a huge fan of the combined reality show with the mystery of someone sabotaging it. This easily could have been a simpler story with just the competition. But Fiore spiced things up (see what I did there? :) with the added question of what was going on in the kitchens and why people were getting hurt. It took the book to a whole new level suspense-wise.

Minus a little bit of predictability for the ending (without the sabotage, though. I was pleasantly surprised), this was a fast-paced book that had me turning pages so fast to find out what was going to happen that I loved. And who doesn't love a good book about cooking?

Read When: You have several hours blocked off to get through this in one sitting, and for your heavy dose of competition and edge. 

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