Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Taste Test

Taste Test
Kelly Fiore
Bloomsbury, 2013
$17.99, Hardcover

Genre: Realistic, Mystery
Age: 12+
Description: Nora Henderson is a sweet girl from North Carolina who just loves cooking. Raised by her father after her mother died when she was young, Nora has been helping out in his famous barbecue restaurant for years. When she is accepted to Taste Test, a teen reality cooking show, she can’t wait to leave her hometown behind and get the chance to have a shot at a future cooking career. However, her expectations of the competition sour quickly when she realizes how “scripted” a reality show can be as the producers want to create as much drama as possible. She quickly makes two friends but quickly makes enemies as well—a snotty rich girl who seems to be in the competition solely because she’s sleeping with one of the judges and Christian Van Lorten—the son of a famous chef who really could make it in the food world on his name alone so Nora takes offense at him competing. Quickly though it is clear that Nora and Christian are the front runners for winning the competition . . . that is until mysterious accidents seem to be plaguing the kitchen area that lead to other competitors being removed from the competition. Can Nora figure out who is putting the competition on the chopping block for good before she finds herself there?
Opinion: When I found the description to this book I thought I found the perfect book for me—a YA novel with mystery that is totally Hell’s Kitchen like! I was super excited to see it arrive as an ARC for the YA Galley Group project. I like the layout of the book with the reality elements mixed it—such as transcripts of contestant Q&A sessions with producers and the notes from the judges about the eliminations. I think it is pretty clear from the get go who is going to win . . . but that aside the saboteur does come as a bit of a shock. I was a bit saddened at the romance angle—I would have liked it to be more of a mystery than “oh, the bad boy cook, I like him, I hate him, I like him,” and so on but overall it was a good book. It was at times a bit slow to get through but once the action picked up the pace got quicker. Sadly, it didn’t live up to my expectations but I was still pleased with it. Definitely give to any teens who are obsessed with cooking, mysteries, and cooking TV shows!

Here’s what some of my teens had to say:

Katie, 14, says, “When Hell’s Kitchen meets the teenage world, things get crazy! Nora is invited to participate on the teen chef reality show, Taste Test, where people get hurt, amazing food is made, and a little romance is tossed in. Read Taste Test to find out who makes it to the top! The whole entire book was amazing! I couldn’t put it down.”

*Thanks to Linette Kim at Bloomsbury for providing an ARC of this title for the YA Galley Group project!*

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