I was all set to summarize the premise behind Meg Cabot’s Heather Wells mystery series, but it turns out that the publisher already made a book trailer/pop-up music video that does just that:
Did you get all that? Also, why is everything so 80s looking when this video is set in 1995? She doesn’t even have the Canadian excuse like Robin Sparkles.
ANYWAY, in the 4th installment of the series, Size 12 and Ready to Rock (HarperCollins 2012) Heather is setting up to host the Tania Trace Teen Rock Camp hosted by Tania herself at Fischer Hall, the New York College dorm where Heather works in order to get free college tuition. This is a bit awkward since Tania is married to Heather’s ex-boyfriend Jordan Cartwright, the one she broke up with after catching him in a … compromising position with Tania herself. Heather is pretty over it though now that she’s engaged to Jordan’s older brother and Cartwright family black sheep, Cooper. However, when a reality show producer connected to the camp is murdered, the president of the record label, who happens to be the Cartwright boys’ father, hires private investigator Cooper to solve the mystery and protect his daughter-in-law/highest-earning performer. So Heather has to deal with a dorm full of teenage divas, her ex-boyfriend and his crazy family, and a psycho murderer on the loose who is killing people with cupcakes. CUPCAKES. Is nothing sacred?
Heather just might be my favorite Meg Cabot heroine. She’s someone who had enormous success at a young age, lost it all (including all her money which her own mother stole), and then picked herself back up and forged a new path in life. I mean, according to all those Behind the Musics I watched in the 90s, most former teen idols turn into bitter alcoholics. In fact, Heather’s difficult past has made her stronger and more assertive. She’s a kickass female character, not in the usual sense that she’s a good physical fighter, but in the sense that she gets shit done. And though the book title indicates that Heather is plus-sized, she doesn’t dwell on it and is generally comfortable with herself. I LOVE that. I think most stories with plus-sized characters tend to revolve about weight and body image issues, and that’s just not the case here.
The mystery part of the story is a bit light. I mean we’re not talking about Agatha Christie levels of plotting and suspense, but that’s fine with me. Besides having fun with bratty teenaged divas and high-strung reality TV producers, the mystery plot is mainly there to introduce the reader to the rest of the Cartwright clan and they’re fantastically crazy. Most of the Cartwrights are funny caricatures (which I have no problem with) but I like how Cabot uses the story to develop the Tania character. She could have easily gone the stereotypical bitchy diva who treats Heather like crap route with Tania, but instead makes her a more well-rounded, sympathetic character. Well done.
I think Meg Cabot would be the first to say that this book is not Serious Literature. However it is the perfect book to read at the beach or when you need a little pick-me-up. It’s fun, funny, and contains strong and interesting female characters. I can’t wait to read the next one.
And here’s my other favorite fictional former teen pop star:
Let’s go to the mall TODAY!