Friday, June 20, 2008

Meg Cabot is not fat.

Cabot, Meg, and Justine Eyre. Size 12 Is Not Fat. A Heather Wells mystery. Westminster, Md: Books on Tape, 2007.
It is hard to suspend your disbelief when the main character of an amateur detective story can't seem to suspend her own. Heather Wells is a size 12, 28 years old, and a former self-proclaimed "teen pop sensation". Heather has been forced, due to dire circumstances, to take a job as an assistant residence hall director. But, just a few weeks after students move into Fischer Hall for the fall semester, two girls die in quick succession. Both are found at the bottom of the elevator shaft, but for some poorly explained reason, no one except Heather suspects their deaths are in any way suspicious. Heather just happens to also have recently moved with her philandering ex-boyfriend's older brother to save on rent. Conner is both conveniently a private investigator with connections all over town and also evidently so mouth-wateringly-delicious that we must hear about it every other paragraph. Oh, also, her ex-boyfriend is heart-throb superstar Jordan Cartwright and he wants her back, but by now she's completely in love with his brother, Conner.
The plot of the book starts of far fetched (because what police force really doesn't investigate two bodies in the same place in a one week span of time?) But, it could be believable, if only Heather would stop making so many asides all the time. Obviously the humor and sass that should drive a chick-lit mystery is supposed to be in the asides. And who doesn't love a sassy average sized woman who is proud of her size? Evidently, not Meg Cabot. Some of Heather's asides dwell for an absurdly long time about the slender beauty and intelligence of other women around her and how much she longs for junk food and abhors exercise. Heather also tends to believe any thought she has is ridiculous and constantly second guesses herself. Anytime someone objects to one of her ideas she folds like a bad hand in Texas Hold 'em. Cabot, skinny herself, could definitely use a lesson in "lush women psychology" from Jennifer Crusie or Jennifer Weiner. The characters are flat, predictable, and read without much shifting, differentiation, or faceting by Justine Eyre in the CD book. Though, to be fair, Eyre had 20 characters in the story and only 5 of them were significantly different from the others. I guess she did what she could. The most realistic relationships seem to be the twisted ones between Heather and her mother and/or her former record label. At least the love scene was mercifully brief. Too bad the book on CD lasts an excruciatingly long time.

For a more personal and less restrained review; click here.

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