Meg Cabot has made quite a name for herself in the young adult chick-lit genre with her successful Princess Diaries series. A few years ago, Cabot ventured into the adult chick-lit arena with books like The Boy Next Door. With Size 12 Is Not Fat, Cabot again makes a genre transition into chick-lit mystery, a sub-genre that has enjoyed much success in the past year or two. As Cabot is usually excellent at creating fun, interested characters and good plots, I was excited to pick up her newest effort.
Size 12 Is Not Fat is told in the first person by Heather Wells, an ex-teen pop star who now works at a residence hall in New York as an assistant director. Heather struggles not only with the fact that she no longer has a singing career and that she has put on some weight, but also with her fiancťe (Jordon Cartwright, member of a boy band) leaving her - and her newfound feelings for her roommate Cooper, who just happens to be Jordonís brother. However, all of these worries are put on the back burner when a student in Heatherís residence hall is found dead in the elevator shaft, an apparent victim of an ďelevator surfingĒ accident. Heather doesnít believe itís an accident, though, especially when a second girl turns up dead in the exact same manner. When the police donít take her concerns seriously, Heather takes it upon herself to find out who is killing the girls she has vowed to protect.
Size 12 Is Not Fat has a decent plot, but its likeability is compromised by a few factors. The first is the premise of the book. The title, and therefore its theme, is that size 12 is the average American size of a woman and should not be considered overweight. However, Heather herself continually talks about her weight gain, calls herself a ďbig girlĒ and spends an inordinate amount of time either eating or thinking of eating junk food. Though Cabot has obviously tried to make Heather a girl who is comfortable with herself and her weight, she ends up giving off the exact opposite impression - and we get the idea that size 12 is indeed fat.
The second problem is the character of Heather herself. She is immature, annoying and difficult to like or relate to. It should be easy to take a shine to an ex pop star whose mother stole all of her money, whose boyfriend left her and who is doing her best to make her way in the non-famous world. Unfortunately, itís not that easy. Perhaps itís the way she talks (as if she never matured from her teen days) or the way she is always drooling over her roommate (who seems far and away more mature and together than she does). Whatever the reason, Heather just isnít a likeable heroine, and thatís a real problem in a chick-lit mystery told from the first person that is going to be made into a series.
The plot of the book is good and the ending is satisfying, but even that doesnít elevate the book as we donít really care what happens to Heather. I will continue to read Cabotís books because I have enjoyed many of her past offerings, but Iíll stay away from any further novels that feature Heather Wells.