Size 12 is Not Fat: A Heather Wells Mystery

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Monday, April 17, 2006
by Meg Cabot#11

Heather Wells is a former teen-pop queen. (Think Britney with a dash of Tiffany) But Heather's mom ran off with all her money, her former fiance and boyband member Jordan (think Justin) got caught in a compromising position with another pop-tart (think Xtina), and Heather got simultaneously dumped by her label (run by Jordan's dad) and her boyfriend. So, with no family, no money, and no prospects, Heather ends up working as an assistant residence hall director at New York College (free tuition), and living with Jordan's black-sheep brother, Cooper. (The black sheep brother is of course smoking hot, smart, above all that shallow bullshit, and of course... OF COURSE... independently wealthy.) She lives with Cooper, but not with Cooper (although she secretly pines for him... OF COURSE). She's got her own suite of rooms (see above, re: Cooper independently wealthy), in which he lets her stay in return for doing the accounting for his Detective Agency (of course).

As you may have guessed from the title, Heather's body resumed its native state once she wasn't shaking her ass in malls across america. There is much time devoted to Heather's love of snack food, and how she gets her recommended allotment of exercise in tiny incriments, usually walking to get more snacks. I've got no problem with this -- it's true on television, and in books (particulararly romance novels, for some reason) that women are all tall and skinny with enormous boobs, or they are tiny and petite (with enormous boobs). Anyway -- the thing that bugs me here is that the "fat" angle is what they're hooking the whole series on. I mean, either size 12 is fat or it isn't! I wouldn't have thought much about it until I read the little note at the end by Meg Cabot where she gives the publication dates of the next two in the series. The titles? Phat Girl and Big Boned. Marketing! Argh.

Despite my bitching, this was a mostly enjoyable light read. I figured out who the baddie was about half way through, but that doesn't bother me too much. Something that did bug a little (but it is dwarfed in comparison to my irritation at the Phat Girl series titles) -- Heather's story is first person, which totally works EXCEPT it is first person, present tense. The whole thing reads like a choose your own adventure story. (made up example since the book is now back at the library: "I'm walking down the hall and I notice that the vending machine needs to be restocked, but then my boss calls my name so I turn around and go back to my office." I found it to be hugely distracting, but maybe I'm just wimpy.

I liked, but did not love this book. I dig that she is reviving the Girl Detective series, and I love the whole former teen pop-star angle and the college dorm setting. I don't love what seems to me like a bunch of double talk about weight, and I really don't love the first person present tense. This is in some nebulous category -- it's not one of Meg Cabot's teen books (which I generally enjoy), it's not one of her adult romances, it is somewhere in-between. I will give Heather Wells another chance, though. It could be that as the series goes on it will settle-in, somehow.
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