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3.38  ·  Rating details ·  1,980 ratings  ·  157 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 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 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 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 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
May 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alyce Hunt
Nov 16, 2015 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
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
Jan 27, 2013 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
Jul 17, 2009 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
Lauren Boyd
Jan 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I am rating this book 2.5 stars for many reasons.

To say I am partial to books with the theme of eating disorders is an understatement. I have read many, many books with this theme and this is definitely one of the poorer written ones.

I did think the general plot line of the book was a good starting point. Carmen's mum has an eating disorder that has taken over her life from a young age. She distanced herself from all family and friends and has now taken her daughter away from the stable home sh
Elicia Cheah
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

I don't know what to say. Just that there were some really good parts that I really would have loved to see more of in Massive. Some scenes showed good character development but I felt like some scenes may have been redundant and that the story could have focused more on scenes that were more powerful.

I guess that's the problem with writing about mental illnesses. It's such a touchy and subjective issue, it's a really hard topic to write about, much less make it a central
Brooke Clark
May 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Carmen's life is about to get a bit messed up in this book. Carmen is a teen in high school and well, she's fat. She just doesn't care. Her mom goes on all these diets, her dad sneaks her candy and she eats all the time, hiding everything from her mom. Then suddenly, her mom takes Carmen and they move. Carmen now has to find new friends in her new school and cope with gross diet food and her dad being gone. Carmen's new friends are the schools 'it' girls, so Carmen tries her best to fit in. Will ...more
Pernia Hassan
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book takes place in England. Carmen is a typical teen who is trying to maintain friendships and and get along with her mom. The latter is hard because her mom is a terrible person, constantly ridiculing C for eating. Maria is anorexic.

Maria decides to leave her partner of many years and the only father-figure in C’s life. Maria returns home. C meets Billy, an old friend and her aunt who is a nail manicurist. C develops bulimia.
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
TW: eating disorders

I felt like this was a really good representation of eating disorders (not specified as to which one it covers specifically) but it was very slow to start with. I wish it was a little longer and we got to see the after of everything that happened at the end of the book but other than that it was a solid read. I'd recommend it if you are looking for a raw representation of an eating disorder.
Michelle Wallis
Jun 18, 2017 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.
Jul 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth a read.

This was a good one. It was a bit different, and honestly, I expected a different ending, like a twist, maybe. It was good writing, but the end fell a little flat for me. It felt rushed and thrown together. All in all, it was just okay.
Helen Rosell
Terrible. You never learn to like Carmen and her mother isn't any better.

It just stopped. No actual ending. Choppy writing at times and her descent into bulimia seems abrupt. Really unhappy with the lack of an ending.
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 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
DNF halfway through, writing was too sludgy
Feb 28, 2017 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 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 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 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 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,
Rachel Yule
Jul 31, 2014 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 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 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 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 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
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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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