Title: Size 12 is Not Fat
Heather Wells Rocks!
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…
I’ve long been a fan of Meg Cabot – her Mediator series is one of my favorites, and I read her whole Princess Diaries series for the first time this year and was quite entertained. So, as I challenged myself to read adult books this year, it only makes sense that I would check out some of Cabot’s adult stories – and, luckily, there seem to be few differences between my enjoyment of her adult and young adult stories!
From the very beginning, you really have a sense of who Heather Wells is: a young woman who has overcome a lot in her unusual past (former teen pop star whose mother stole all her savings after she hit her peak and lost her recording contract – in related news, I’d really like to meet this alluded-to mother in future books) but is always quick to say what she thinks and fights for what she believes in, whether it’s the fact that girls don’t elevator surf (is this a real thing? because it sounds terrifying and I would never do it, which could go with her assertion that girls just don’t) or that stores shouldn’t have vanity sizing where size 12s can wear size 8 because it’s just absurd and size 12 isn’t fat, it’s average. As soon as the mystery at the core of this story starts, you know it’s in the good hands of Heather, who will do whatever it takes to discover the truth.
The mystery is definitely the biggest plotline in this book, but there are other things as well, Heather’s job at the dorm is a new one, so she’s continually trying to adjust to that new existence, as well as all the other changes in her life, like the fact that her fiance cheated on her and she’s now living with his older brother, who she loves but doesn’t seem to return the feelings (although you just know that’s going to change – and no, that’s not a spoiler, that’s just me knowing enough about books and tropes and Cabot to make an educated guess). So, Heather’s dealing with a lot – there just happens to be a murder mystery on top of that.
Cabot is quite good at having a cast of interesting and diverse secondary characters. There’s Cooper, of course, who is the private investigator who Heather lives with and is in love with, but there’s also the ex-boyfriend who is very much still in the picture, though Heather wishes otherwise; there are other dorm (sorry, residence hall – that’s a recurring and sometimes slightly annoying point that Heather often brings up) workers like Magda, a cafeteria worker, and Pete, a guard; Patty and Frank, friends from her pop star days who have luckily stuck around despite Heather’s slide down the social sphere; and Mrs. Allington, the wife of the president of New York College, where Heather works, who lives in the hall where Heather works and who seems like a stereotypical rich, white, wife who constantly drinks, but gets a moment to shine at the end that I was quite amused by.
The mystery was quite interesting. Even though this is definitely a fluffy book, which is probably the only reason the library I got this from had it shelved in the fiction section rather than the mystery section (which kind of bugged me, but I’m going to let it go for now), the mystery can be a bit dark. There are dead teenage girls, pipe bombs that leave Heather in a very precarious position, and a killer who is quite unhinged and scary (don’t worry, no spoilers!). I didn’t figure out who the killer was, but I was properly shocked as a result, so that’s still a point in the book’s favor!
The “Adult” Aspect
Like I said, this book is quite similar to Cabot’s YA fare, but there some differences, like more cursing (the f-word pops up a few times, but it’s really not a big difference) and sex. Even the sex scenes are similar to YA sex scenes, though – you know, very ambiguous, more much concerned with saying “there’s sex going on here” than describing it, which I didn’t mind. Really, the main difference is that Heather is a 28-year-old protagonist who has adult problems like keeping a job and watching her friend’s kid and worrying about paying rent (a problem which Cooper took care of, but it was still a concern for her before she got such a good deal).
Other than Heather’s fairly-typical-for-a-Cabot-book obsession with Cooper, there isn’t too much romance in this book. There’s some drama with her ex, but Heather’s attention is definitely focused on the murder mystery in this book. I’m sure the romance will begin to escalate in the later books (especially since the fifth – and final? – book is called The Bride Wore Size 12, which definitely suggests romance and progress), but for now it really wasn’t necessary. If anything, I got a little tired of Heather constantly talking about wanting to take Cooper’s clothes off with her teeth (that phrase came up multiple times), so I was happy with not too much romance in the series yet.
Everything gets very dramatic and dire by the end of the book, once Heather has figured out who the killer is but has to have a final confrontation with him/her/them?! (seriously trying not to spoil things, so I won’t tell!) first. I was reading quickly, trying to see what would happen. Everything gets wrapped up nicely by the end, and though there was no cliffhanger, I’m glad I already checked out the second book and can get to it soon.
This book wasn’t perfect – it’s definitely a Cabot book, which is almost completely a good thing, but also means there are some similarities that seem to pop up in all her books and can get slightly tired when you’ve read so many of her books. That being said, I really did enjoy this book and plan on enjoying the rest of the series, and if the only problem I have is that it reminds me too much of other books I love, like The Mediator, then that’s a problem I’m very happy to have!