Macabre Book Review: Eating Bull (2015) by Carrie Rubin
Carrie Rubin’s Eating Bull provides a compelling narrative that not only touches upon a concerning health issue for the community at large but also the ableism that plagues our society. First published on October 15, 2015, this book remains relevant for 2023, as a thoughtful, yet thrilling novel that masterfully blends social justice, community health issues, and macabre crime. As a novelist with a background in medicine, Carrie Rubin is well-equipped to write medical-themed thrillers. There also seems to be an underlying understanding of psychology, as the ease with which opposing characters were conveyed through text was impeccable.
Shame, self-deprecation, and self-sabotage rule Jeremy’s life. As a teenager whose disordered eating has resulted in obesity and a future full of health complications, he’s already at a disadvantage. A scathingly critical grandfather who lovingly bestowed him with the nickname of Eating Bull is the only male role model Jeremy has—well, his grandfather and Rex, the loser his mother Connie calls a boyfriend. The odds continue to stack against Jeremy, whose mother has too many jobs and not enough time to devote to raising her son. He knows that she does what she can to make ends meet and keep him fed, even if that means that fast food is his standard fare.
Sue, the warrior nurse who helps Jeremy in his battle against obesity, coaxes him to join her in a legal fight against the food industry. Done in part to create a healthier society, Sue argues that the food industry knowingly makes their food with addictive ingredients, which in turn fill their customers with sugar, fat, and feel-good chemicals. Sue’s legal claim catapults Jeremy into the public eye, where he suffers helplessly at the hands of a persistent bully. Unfortunately for Jeremy, his undesired fame also draws the attention of a twisted killer who is set on cleansing the world of obese people.
A Macabre Evaluation
As a fan of horror, I have to admit that there were parts of this book that I found disturbing; although it’s doubtful that the content could have been conveyed in the same light without it, the language used can be a bit off-putting. There is a lot of languages that could be construed as ableist, but it is used to put characters into context, and without them, the antagonistic characters would be less realistic and threatening.
I rate this book four out of five stars, as there were certain parts of the novel that felt as if they were relevant, but not fleshed out to satisfaction. The narrative about Jeremy’s birth father felt like it could have been taken deeper, but was overall left feeling like a surface-level plot device that was thrown in to help make a more convenient ending. That’s not to say this book wasn’t well written, but rather that it left me wanting more details to discover.
Those who are easily disturbed may find that the topic of this novel is too sensitive for them, but I sincerely enjoyed it. Those who find interest in true crime may find this to be an enjoyable fictitious alternative. Likewise, those who are primarily interested in work that falls into the category of crime, drama, thriller, or suspense would find this to be quite an excellent read.