Monday, May 19, 2008

Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

Recently at the library a book caught my eye. "Size 12 is Not Fat" was boldly proclaimed on the cover. When I picked it up, I thought it was going to be a non fiction book, dealing with the way many people view any woman over a size 6 or so as fat. No, it's actually fiction. Hmm, I looked at where I took the book from and it's a section where they have "Chick Lit" books. Those are fiction books aimed at women, not formula romance novels but they have a romantic component, and usually feature women in their 20s and 30s. I haven't read many of them, but the ones that I have read all take place in New York City. They are not really my thing, but I'll read them occasionally and I decided to read this one because it deals with weight issues.

It turns out this is a chick lit mystery. I used to read a lot of mysteries, but rarely do any longer because they make my brain explode with how unreal they are. I just can't suspend disbelief enough to enjoy them. The characters get themselves into situations where they would be dead, or arrested. They do such stupid things that are totally outside the realm of any sort of reality that I just can't stand to read them. That's why I started reading science fiction and fantasy novels, I figure it's easier to suspend disbelief and enjoy the story when you are on a fictional world. This book only had a few moments where I had to put it down because it just got too silly, but unlike many similar books, it had enough redeeming qualities that I picked it up again.

The protagonist/detective is Heather Wells, a former teen pop singer whose mother has stolen all her money and run off to Argentina. She's broken up with her boy band pop star boyfriend after catching him cheating, and was dropped by her record company (run by her ex-boyfriend's father) and is the assistant director for a college dorm for a fictional New York college. She lives with her ex-boyfriend's estranged brother, who is an actual private detective, getting free rent in exchange for bookkeeping.

Heather has also put on a few pounds, up to a size 12. She apparently put on weight the same way I did, likes to eat and doesn't exercise much. Through a lot of the book, it talks about what she's eating and how much she's enjoying it and that she feels it's worth it. It's also got other people's response to her "fatness" and her feelings about her boss, a fitness and dieting fanatic who is beautiful, slender and well dressed.

It's written in first person in a casual, engaging style that is easy to follow. Meg Cabot has written a lot of books, including the popular Princess Diaries series for young adults.

The mystery aspects start very early in the book, when a young woman dies by falling in an elevator shaft. Everyone but Heather thinks that she was elevator surfing, kind of a daredevil game. But Heather says that girls don't elevator surf, and especially not the victim, a very straight, conservative young woman. When the next woman dies, same thing, and Heather discovers a connection between them and starts to investigate, all the while in typical amateur sleuth mystery fashion, having her private detective landlord/roommate and the police telling her to stay the hell out of it.
Did I mention that she's in love with the private detective? Well yeah, she is. She fantasizes about him a lot. I didn't like him that much, he seemed rather cold and sort of boring. Then again, the kind of guys who get written about in chick lit novels really don't float my boat.

I had the murderer narrowed down to two people about a third of the way into the book. Before long, I was pretty sure who it was, and it did turn out to be that person.

At the end of the book is a section where the author talks about her inspiration for writing the book, and then there's the first chapter of the next book.

I certainly wouldn't call this a must read, but I did enjoy it enough to read the next book in the series Size 14 is Not Fat Either. I'll review that one when I'm done with it. link:
Size 12 Is Not Fat: A Heather Wells Mystery

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