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3.39  ·  Rating Details ·  1,840 Ratings  ·  150 Reviews
"I'm fat," I hear myself saying. I look in the mirror. My face has gone hot and red; I feel like I'm going to explode. "I'm fat." It sizzles under my skin, puffing me up, pushing me out, making me massive.

Weight has always been a big issue in Carmen's life. How could it not? Her mom is obsessed with the idea that thin equals beautiful, thin equals successful, thin equals
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Simon Pulse (first published January 1st 2002)
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Oct 23, 2010 Lucy rated it really liked it
Some books are so good, they make you angry. Massive, by Julia Bell, is one of those books.

Set in England, Massive is the story of a teenager girl, Carmen, whose mother suffers from an eating disorder–one that she is slowly forcing upon her daughter. She’s moody, paranoid, and slowly unraveling at the seams. Honestly, sometimes you really want to punch this woman for what she’s doing to her daughter. And that’s part of the power of the book: hating Carmen’s mother while at the same time feeling
Dec 25, 2010 Chrissy rated it it was ok
I wanted to like "Massive," since I've always had a particular soft spot for characters with eating disorders, but there was something so bleak about the lack of character development here that I really can't say I enjoyed it. We see snippets of a severely disordered mother, passing along her anorexic/bulimic ways to her young teenage daughter, but it's all so heavily mixed with random scenes that nothing feels accomplished. I either want to have great character development or a great plot line, ...more
Jul 23, 2013 Jahan rated it it was ok
I really did not enjoy this. Really. I'd previously read a really amazing ED book ('Monkey Taming' by Judith Fathallah) so was interested in trying out more of the same genre. But the book is barely about Carmen's dieting or ED, it's mostly about her cruel, crazy mother and the crap drama Carmen goes through.

I felt the book didn't give a proper insight into Carmen's personality or motives, despite the entire book being in a first person narrative. Her actions seemed pretty random at times and e
Jun 27, 2017 Brittany rated it liked it
I'm a sucker for books that takes place in England and for teen mental health stories, so I had high hopes for this book. Bell does an excellent job of creating depth to the characters of Carmen and her mother. Mom is thoroughly despicable from the beginning and it is heartbreaking to watch Carmen wrestle with the demons that want her to resist and become her at the same time.

The other characters weren't as engaging and I got bored in the middle a bit, when I could predict where things were goin
The main thing I really enjoyed about this book is that it's mostly set in Birmingham which is great because I haven't been able to find much Birmingham-based YA (we're the second city people, start writing fiction about us!) I really enjoyed reading about places that I know where they are (or were, this book was published in 2002) and there was even a bit of politics with discussion of the Bull Ring and the new building.

As for the book itself, I kind of enjoyed it but it's a bit scattergun with
Jul 17, 2009 Cherylann rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
I thought Massive was going to deal with weight issues - eating disorders and body image. However, it's really a book about family and how some families can be destructive for those in them. I found Massive to be really dark and disturbing. I'd like to say it was unrealistic in that I can't believe that none of the family members saw what was happening and stepped in. However, I do know that in life those closest to a bad situation often turn a blind eye. I had trouble connecting to the characte ...more
Michelle Wallis
Jun 18, 2017 Michelle Wallis rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book about body image and damaging families. It explores eating disorders, family hostility and children being torn in the middle. My only criticism is that there was room to further develop the characters and the ending was a little of a let down.
Helen Rosell
Terrible. You never learn to like Carmen and her mother isn't any better.
XXL, un titre qui en dit long sur le thème principal du roman. Mise en scène dans notre société actuelle où l’apparence est de plus en plus importante, l’histoire est racontée par Carmen, une adolescente qui se cherche. Perdue dans un tourbillon de situations difficiles, entre la séparation de ses « parents », son déménagement dans une ville qu’elle ne connaît pas et les problèmes de poids de sa mère, obsédée par les régimes, elle va décider de changer son apparence, espérant que cette transfor ...more
Jan 08, 2017 Emery rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
DNF halfway through, writing was too sludgy
Alyce Hunt
Nov 16, 2015 Alyce Hunt rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-borrowed
'Massive' is a story focusing on eating disorders, particularly bulimia nervosa, so if you're sensitive to issues regarding eating disorders and you find it to be triggering, please don't read this review!
'I must try harder, I write, pressing the biro into my biology book, not to eat. It is this which is at the root of my problems, I have decided. Not Mum and Dad, or Nana or Kelly or Maxine and Paisley, but this: my puffy face, my swelling breasts, my belly. If I was beautiful, I could have ever
Feb 28, 2017 Aayla rated it liked it
This book was pretty predictable, and in the end was not very satisfying. I would say that it's sadly realistic though.
Oct 30, 2016 Ruby rated it it was ok
What follows is a list (in no particular order) of the problems I had with this book:
The author never specifies how tall Carmen is, but I would assume 114 lbs could not place her at larger than a size 10, which is what she supposedly is.
If Carmen truly ate the way the author described (Big Macs after school, plus dinner and a king-size candy bar, as well as more snacking throughout the day on processed foods), I highly doubt she would only be 114 pounds, especially since she didn't seem to enga
Aug 09, 2012 Hope rated it liked it
'Massive' explores the way parents can have a massive impact on their children. It follows the story of Carmen, and how her mother's eating disorder and obsession with beauty standards slowly begins to affect Carmen.

What I liked about this book is how it didn't sugarcoat the reality of eating disorders, puberty, bullying and the idealisation of beauty. Carmen is fourteen in the book, an age where she is very impressionable, even if she likes to think she isn't. She's shown to have a resistance t
Sarah Crawford
Jan 15, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it liked it
This is another book about eating disorders and also, to a much lesser extent, about bullying in school.

Unfortunately, the book is far too long for its purpose. We learn that Carmen's mother has had eating disorders of her own and still does. She leaves her husband and takes Carmen with her.

At first Carmen is overweight and not really that concerned about it. Then she runs into some bullying at school (and does some of her own) relating to girls who are overweight. In addition, her mother's ince
Feb 12, 2017 Regan rated it it was ok
This cuts the list of one of the worst books I've ever read. I've only given 2 (1.5...) stars because I've yet to see a book to surpass Vain by Amelie Fisher (the only book I've read that I thought was worth 0 stars.) I got called a bitch by an author when I gave an honest review, so I'll just keep this one short...

The MC was so unlikable that I wish she'd died. I was kind of hoping she would. How can anyone relate to this horrible bully?? She deserved everything she got. I would include quotes,
Feb 05, 2016 Meganbutler rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel Yule
Jul 31, 2014 Rachel Yule rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 21, 2010 T. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, young-adult
Incredibly pissed. Surprised that I even got myself to finish this. Can't decide if I'm mad at the characters themselves, or at the author for creating shallow and contrived personalities. I just don't get why the story will end up like it did. It seemed absurd to me, and so stupid on so many levels that people in this story will act and think like that.

Then again, I may be wrong. After all, I've never been in this situation, and have never known anyone repulsed by food. I do realize that for s
Apr 11, 2016 Deborah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a timely novel with all the recent media coverage about food, i.e. sugar, paleo diets, obesity, Type 2 diabetes.

This story was written in an ironic humorous style with underlying pathos and significance, as it deals with three generations of women and the role of food in their lives. At the forefront is 14 year old Carmen, who endures her mother splitting from her step-dad, and being moved to a new town. She is confused about her developing body, thanks to her diet-obsessed, neurotic mot
Jun 17, 2016 Soah rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: another body positivity activist to see what they think of the book
I was very excited when I first picked up this book. Since I am a huge supporter of body positivity, I thought this would be a book about how Carmen (the main character) ends up feeling confident about herself. However, I was truly disappointed when I finished this book. There was so much hate on fat people and it was rude and disrespectful. I will say that I do respect the author for realizing that there is skinny shaming in the world though. She succeeded in talking about how Carmens mom was c ...more
May 24, 2013 Emily rated it really liked it
With weight and dieting being such a central focus so often in the media at the moment this is a really interesting and powerful book highlighting just how people can become so obsessed with fo0d. Between her Gran and her mother Carmen is experiencing both ends of the scale and she doesn’t know what is best and I think this reflects how a lot of people are feeling with the media coverage of weight we are often faced with.

The attitude of Carmen’s mum is this book really hit me. Having your own mo
May 21, 2010 Ab rated it did not like it
God, this book was like watching a particularly awful train wreck -- just couldn't pull myself away, but also repulsed and wanting to look away the whole time. It's actually quite similar in style to a crappy short story I tried to write in an intro to Creative writing class in college.

From paragraph to paragraph, there's some sort of time-skipping element that is abrupt, nonsensical, and arbitrary. The pages are full of hateful words from mother to daughter about weight and food, and they are
Feb 05, 2010 M. rated it it was ok
Shelves: eating-disorders
well -- there's some hamfisting to the writing. this took me unusually long to read, i think because there's little joy or humor to the story, and the narrator is unobservant, has a feeble voice. carmen's situation is maddening - her anorexic mother is basically forcing her to starve herself. not to mention silence herself: carmen is never listened to or really seen. it takes a long time for carmen to assert herself, but when finally she begins to, the book gains more momentum and becomes more a ...more
Amani Smith
The theme of Massive by Julia Bellis to be happy with your self no matter how you look on the outside because its only hiow you look on the inside. Also if you can accept your self then many others will be able to accept you as well. The main character Carmen mother is obsessed with her and carmens looks.

Her mom has just came back from the hospital for an effect of bulimia and goes right back on her diet. She convinces her daughter Carmen that she is fat and needs to lose weight because in order
Jan 27, 2013 Jody rated it did not like it

No character development. The characters are weak charictures of stereotypes.

Basic plot is that a mother is anorexic, keeps calling her teen daughter fat, daughter develops an eating disorder.

The daughter, by the way, is legitimately described as fat. The first half of the book talks about how she gobbles down Big Macs and piles of candy bars. The fat daughter is 114 pounds. (It would be fine to have someone think of themselves as fat and not be, which is what I assume the author was
May 14, 2009 Meryl rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like reading about troubled teens.
Shelves: read-and-loved
I like reading about kids with problems and this one really fit. There's just something so cruel yet compelling about the story behind a kid who's worse off than you... and I like! Ha, it's about an eating disorder! Yay, tragedy!

Really, I liked this book very much. I didn't realize it at first, but it takes place somewhere in the UK. I liked the characters, and the binging-and-purging was something I'd never read about before. Carmen is greatly pressured into being some skinny hoe, just like her
Maisie Manuel
May 26, 2011 Maisie Manuel rated it liked it
Shelves: 4th-9-weeks
Carmen is a ----- year old girl forced to live with her controlling weight obsessed mother. All the while, Carmen is struggling with her own weight issues. Her mother, being the diet crazed woman she is, believes Carmen will never be thin and has no problem sharing her thoughts about it with Carmen. When Carmen's mother decides to move to Burmingham, England, Carmen's weight anxiety takes a turn for the worst. At first, Carmen does not fit in with the girls at her new school, but once she become ...more
Massive read much like a UK version of an afterschool special.

This story covers a year or so in the life of the main character, a young, teen-aged girl torn up and messed up by her parents recent divorce and an upbringing of being taught how to eat (and what not to eat) by someone tormented by their own food issues and body dysmorphia.

And while I appreciated the UK location and the accented dialogue the most with this book ... honestly, content wise it was about as useless as ... oh, I don't k
Sep 07, 2009 Fiona rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, young-adult
Perhaps I am simply very lucky in that I have never actually had eating disorders touch me or anyone I know, but this book was disturbing and eye-opening. Told from the perspective of a young woman whose mother is an extremely controlling anorexic, Carmen soon develops her own eating disorder as her body image is influenced by her mother's perspective. Many of the scenes, from Carmen eating a lot of junk food as a response or the induced vomiting scenes, literally caused me to feel sick to my st ...more
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Librarian note: there are multiple authors with this name on Goodreads.

I was born in Bristol but raised in Wales (I can speak Welsh!) and have published two novels for young adults - Massive and Dirty Work, both published by Macmillan in the UK. In the US Massive is published by Simon and Schuster and Dirty Work by Walker Books. Massive has also been translated into ten languages, including Thai!
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