Sweet Tooth – Ian McEwan

Genre: Realistic Fiction

An image of the novel's front cover
An image of the novel’s front cover

Reading Level: Medium

Pages: 320

Similar Authors: Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, Haruki murakami, Kurt Vonnegut


“Cambridge student Serena Frome’s beauty and intelligence make her the ideal recruit for MI5. The year is 1972. The Cold War is far

from over. England’s legendary intelligence agency is determined to manipulate the cultural conversation by funding writers whose politics align with those of the government. The operation is code named “Sweet Tooth.”

Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is the perfect candidate to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer named Tom Haley. At first, she loves his stories. Then she begins to love the man. How long can she conceal her undercover life? To answer that question, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage: trust no one,” (Goodreads).


To be honest, I didn’t like this book very much. I fell in love with Atonement, so maybe my hopes for Sweet Tooth were too high – however, if I were to rate this on the cliché 5 star scale, it probably wouldn’t rate higher than a two – maybe a three.

The plot was quite witty – the twist at the end was marvelous – and the language was superb; as is the custom for an author as established as McEwan. As a fellow writer and adamant reader, I can appreciate all of these facts, the intricateness of the plot, the depth of, well, everything. However,  I didn’t like the story.

Why, you so curiously ask? I kind of hated all of the characters. This is not  an exaggeration – they were horrible. To paraphrase something my Creative Writing teacher abundantly says, the best stories involve characters that you would like to met. I would not like to meet a single person in this book.

She behaves peculiarly – and not in the quirky sense of the word, in the unrealistic, inhuman sense of the word. And before you think, “Well, the author was just doing that to make his character’s more interesting…” no. It was just plain weird.

(SPOLER ALERT!) I just have to rant about this briefly – first she starts to date this professor guy, and she does so knowing that he’s married. First you might believe, “Maybe this is some kind of symbolism for her youth,” yeah, well, when he dumps her, she moves on to another guy, and whops, he has a fiancé! How does she take it? Calmly, barley reacting. Things are getting a bit strange, admittedly, but you carry on, hoping things might turn out for the better, and then she gets together with the one guy she’s not allowed to get together with after knowing him for two days. Of course, everybody (naturally) has sex with a person they’re somewhat attracted to after knowing them for two days. Completely normal – just the thing to do after rambling on about how you want to be taken seriously as a business woman. (END OF SPOILER!)

Really, the whole thing was just… kind of stupid, and frankly, a waste of my time.

You might enjoy this book if you enjoy McEwan’s writing style, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.


Anybody else read Sweet Tooth and loves it? Does anybody hate it? Let me know in the comments section below!


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