Sunday, August 9

"Size 12 Is Not Fat" - Meg Cabot

Or, at least, she did. That was before she left the pop-idol life behind after she gained a dress size or two—and lost a boyfriend, a recording contract, and her life savings (when Mom took the money and ran off to Argentina). Now that the glamour and glory days of endless mall appearances are in the past, Heather's perfectly happy with her new size 12 shape (the average for the American woman!) and her new job as an assistant dorm director at one of New York's top colleges. That is, until the dead body of a female student from Heather's residence hall is discovered at the bottom of an elevator shaft. The cops and the college president are ready to chalk the death off as an accident, the result of reckless youthful mischief. But Heather knows teenage girls . . . and girls do not elevator surf. Yet no one wants to listen—not the police, her colleagues, or the P.I. who owns the brownstone where she lives—even when more students start turning up dead in equally ordinary and subtly sinister ways. So Heather makes the decision to take on yet another new career: as spunky girl detective! But her new job comes with few benefits, no cheering crowds, and lots of liabilities, some of them potentially fatal. And nothing ticks off a killer more than a portly ex-pop star who's sticking her nose where it doesn't belong . . . "

After being a dedicated Meg Cabot fan through my teens, and then being less-than-impressed by her short story in Prom Nights from Hell, I decided this adult chick-lit offering was her last chance to win me back. Her last chance to impress.
Well, I didn't completely hate it - but I definitely didn't love it. In fact, 'Size 12 Is Not Fat' ended up being annoying more than anything else.
The protagonist, Heather, really started to grate after a few chapters. Despite the book's implication that she is, in fact, smarter than she thinks, I didn't buy it. I mean, she's ditzy. She's completely obsessed about her size. She makes an enormous deal about minor occurences ("she looks like a showerer, not a bather". Who gives a damn, honestly?). She's just...ugh. Rather than warming to the stereotypical chick-lit-heroine-with-whom-women-can-identify, I found her incredibly frustrating and just wanted to slap her by the end of the book.
What is it with the size obsession, anyway? I realise the title of the book is a slight giveaway as to what the contents will feature, but I found it unbelievably annoying to be reading about sizing throughout the book. Why does Heather constantly obsess about being size twelve? If she's obsessing about body image, why isn't she obsessing about the fact that she perceives herself to be fat? Why is it all about the numbers? And the constant bleating about "size twelve is the size of the average American woman" definitely started wearing thin (HA! PUN!) after it was repeated the first fifty or so times. OK, Ms Cabot, we get it. You're trying to write a book that deals with body image concerns. But don't you think you overdid it just a bit? And don't you think the end message - girls who aren't stick thin can still prevail - was more than a little trite?
The only thing keeping me reading was the crime/mystery plot, which, once it got going, chugged along quite nicely underneath the thick veneer of shallow chick-lit slathered copiously over the top. Once a mystery makes itself known to me, I feel compelled to find out who did it. It did provide some interesting scenes for our size twelve amateur investigator to get caught up in, and while the end result (and the motive for the crime) proved to be completely ludicrous, I didn't feel entirely cheated. I mean, after all, it is chick lit.
Needless to say, the book did not make me laugh once. Not that I was expecting as much. I don't think I'll be reading Cabot again.

RATING: The crime/mystery plot was good. Everything else was not. 3 STARS

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