Book Review: Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

November 3, 2011

Book Review: Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabotby Meg Cabot
Published by Pan Macmillan on 2nd June 2006
Source: Borrowed
Pages: 345
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 . . .

Allow me to start this off by saying that this is not a book I would normally read. The only Meg Cabot books I have ever read were the Princess Diaries series, and those were back when I was in middle school. In fact, the only reason I started reading this was because I was put into the Surf Shop at work and I hadn’t gotten a book with me to help pass the hours. (Believe me, being a shop assistant isn’t as fun as it can seem). One of my workmates handed me the book, and I read it purely out of boredom. I expected it to be a light chick-lit read, but I am happy to say it was so much more than that!

We’re introduced to Heather Wells as she’s in a changing room, trying on a pair of jeans. She’s shocked to find the jeans are a little big on her, until she overhears a conversation between another customer and a sales assistant explaining the concept of ‘vanity sizing’. Cue funny confrontation between Heather and aforementioned sales assistant. Then Heather receives a phone call from the director of the ‘residence hall’ (i.e, Dorm) she works in. One of the freshmen has died. And it is here that the plot really begins.

I found this to be an enjoyable read, especially as we are introduced to characters like Magda, Pete, Jordan (Heather’s ex who is also a popstar), Cooper (swoon!) and Christopher Allington. These secondary characters really helped shape the story and plot, especially Cooper. I loved Cooper. I want to live in that Brownstone and do all of Cooper’s finances for him. Seriously, I don’t know what it was that attracted me to him, but something did and I really liked it. I loved the interactions between Jordan and Heather, from her dragging him to help judge a lip-syncing competition to him getting conked on the head and landed in hospital.

The lyrics at the beginning of each chapter were a nice touch, especially as they kept me reminded that Heather was once a manufactured pop star who made the (possible) mistake of insisting to sing her own songs. I liked how her backstory was carefully wove into the story as well.

Heather was a resilient main character, who, yes, did make some silly decisions and did occasionally get on my nerves, but I loved her for them. She seemed real to me, and was, for the most part, a fully believable main character.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I won’t be rushing out to buy the sequels, but I’d definitely take the chance to borrow them to read them, as I am interested to see where Heather and her mystery-busting skills go next!