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Size 12 and Ready to Rock: A Heather Wells Mystery (Heather Wells Mysteries) Paperback – July 10, 2012
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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From the Back Cover
Summer break . . . and the livin' ain't easy!
Just because the students at New York College have flown the coop doesn't mean assistant residence hall director Heather Wells can relax. Fischer Hall is busier than ever, filled with squealing thirteen- and fourteen-year-old girls attending the first ever Tania Trace Teen Rock Camp, hosted by pop sensation Tania Trace herself—who just happens to be newly married to Heather's ex-boyfriend, heartthrob Jordan Cartwright. But the real headache begins when the producer of a reality TV show starring Tania winds up dead . . . and it's clear that the star was the intended victim.
Grant Cartwright, head of Cartwright Records, wants to keep his daughter-in-law (and his highest-earning performer) alive. So he hires his oldest son, black sheep of the family and private investigator Cooper Cartwright—who just happens to be Heather's new fiancé. Heather should leave the detecting to Cooper. But with a dorm full of hysterical mini-divas-in-training, she can't help but get involved. And after Tania shares a really shocking secret with her, this reality suddenly becomes more dangerously real than anyone ever anticipated.
About the Author
Meg Cabot was born in Bloomington, Indiana. In addition to her adult contemporary fiction, she is the author of the bestselling young adult fiction The Princess Diaries and The Mediator series. Over 25 million copies of her novels for children and adults have sold worldwide. Meg lives in Key West, Florida, with her husband.
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I should've known Size 12 and Ready to Rock was going to pick up straight from that. My biggest issue with this book was that Meg Cabot really did seem like she just wanted to punch out this book to satisfy the deadline for the publishers. It is incredibly shoddily written. The most glaring crime against literature? It's not only after HALF of the book has transpired that we actually get a plot line happening.
First we're treated to a pointless scene where New York College film student and Fischer Hall (lovingly called Death Dorm because of all the deaths and murders it has infamously hosted) resident Gavin and his girlfriend Jamie (who was introduced in Big Boned as a scapegoat that would end the subplot of Gavin's impossible crush on Heather by becoming his girlfriend) are having a paintball war in one of the buildings being renovated. I thought that would mean that Gavin would have an important presence in this book like he's had in the three previous books. That's not the case, however. He's used merely as exposition to have Heather and later Cooper go over the events of the previous three books in a casual, conversational way. It may be a personal pet peeve, but I abhor these types of scenes in book series. Cabot is no friend of moderation since she goes on these huge tangents that explain all the backstory related to Heather's job and her now defunct performing career all of which don't really matter in the actual plot of this book.
After some really pointless dialogue between Heather, Cooper, Gavin, and Jamie, we finally see a peek of the real plot: Tania Trace (basically Miley Cyrus/any other random female pop star) is in the top floor, the penthouse suite owned by the college's president, along with her husband Jordan Cartwright (Cooper's brother and Heather's former fiancee), Stephanie (stereotypical TV producer) and Christopher Allington (son to the college's president and hanger-on, basically).
Tania's just witnessed her bodyguard Bear get shot. This is danced around endlessly by everyone involved. They also mention the filming of a Newlyweds type of reality show starring Tania and Jordan. What stuck out to me was how matter-of-factly everything was mentioned in this scene. It really seemed like Cabot had written out an outline of events that read as follows:
a. Allington penthouse suite
b. Christopher uses it without his parents' consent
c. Jordan and Tania appears
d. Mention reality show
e. have paramedics arrive
f. mention Bear's shooting
g. MORE EXPOSITION
And more exposition we get once everybody steps out into the balcony we get treated to a strange scene where, for some reason, Cooper and Heather are not obsessing over the shooting, but start talking to Stephanie, a woman that has been narrated to be unpleasant, personal stuff regarding the monetary relationship Heather has with Cartwright Records (nonexistent since they wrote her contract specifically to prevent her from getting royalties) and her estranged mother who used her as a cash cow. Then they reveal to Stephanie that they (Cooper and Heather) are engaged, something they had been keeping secret.
It is a strange scene because who the hell talks like that? So freely, so matter-of-factly with someone they have just met and have expressed annoyance from. It makes no sense.
So jumping ahead, the action starts picking up halfway through the book when one of the producer dies because of food Tania was sent by what was believed to be a fan. And from then on Cabot has to fast-forward the action because now that he's halfway done with the book she has put in so much filler that she no longer needs to fluff up the relevant storyline or create complications for the characters. So all we get is the conflict, a glimpse to Tania's past, a peek at the reality show (Tania Trace Rock Camp), some bitchy 15-year-old which was mentioned so much that I thought was going to be important to the plot but wasn't, and resolution. All in one swift motion.
I gave it two stars because, compared to the first half, the second half was pretty enjoyable to read, even though it was horribly rushed. I wished Cabot cared about her characters as much as I grew to care for them during book 1 and 2 to have written a better book. The second star is really for potential because inside their bubblegum genre. I do believe Heather Wells has potential to be something better.
My affection for the characters, though, cannot hide some obvious shoddiness in the book, though. Aside from the fact that we waste half a book on pointless exposition and boring dialogue, it was also inaccurate. I didn't particularly enjoy the way Cabot portrayed people of color. Even though they're good guys, they do seem kind of painted with a broad brush and used as decorated over depth. I hate to say it, but they really do seem like characters written by a white girl whose only connections to latinos and blacks is through maids and other blue collar jobs.
It's not like Cabot needs to omit people of color from her narrative or turn the Heather Wells books into a race and gender essay, but she can at least not be lazy enough to make Heather's Miss Mexico doll wear her native flamenco outfit. Flamenco. Miss Mexico. Seems to me like Meg Cabot needs to read the Wikipedia article that clearly states that flamenco is a Spanish dance. So really, Miss Mexico ought to be Miss Spain. Why was that so hard? She even references the doll's "Spanish hat" and "Spanish comb." Obviously, Ms. Cabot, neither the hat nor the comb can speak Spanish or any other language, so the reason the word "Spanish" is part of their description is because they come from SPAIN.
I realize it shouldn't bother me this much, but it does. I'm not even Mexican yet I not only find it, if not offensive, at least dismissive of a culture. Even if you're not offended by this, it should offend you that she literally was not even bothered to double check this piece of information in Wikipedia before hastily finishing up her book and sending it to the publishers so we could shell out the $7 to buy it. It just seems like a lack of respect for the people reading this book.
The book's title was also a source of confusion. It has no real connection to the plot. Heather doesn't seem more "ready to rock" that she has been in the previous three books. Big Boned kind of hinted that she might've been ready to rock since she got onstage and performed one of the songs penned by Cabot (all terrible, might I add. I usually skip the song lyrics she includes at the beginning of each chapter because not only are they terrible, but they also don't add anything at all to the story) but she does none of that in this book and doesn't even mention it.
And last but not least, it is starting to irritate me how, no matter what happens, we need to hear Heather whining about her weight. I know it's kind of this series' "thing" and everything, but it's starting to be stupid. I mean, Heather has had Cooper, Jordan, Gavin, and that dude she dated in Big Boned after her. She is also liked by damn near everybody around her and she is surrounded by a faithful group of friends. There's proof she's gorgeous, and has a handsome fiancee head-over-heels for her. Surely we can all get over the fact she's a size 12? It's just starting to read like a ploy to get big girls to buy this book.
Also, it is SO unrealistic. Heather does nothing but obsess over food and is constantly complaining about her weight. No matter what she does, her weight is working against her (even if it's only in her mind).
The insecurity that comes with being overweight is exaggerated and blown out of proportion by an author who has clearly never been overweight a day in her life.
Heather Wells is an ex pop star who famously lost her fiancé Jordon to another pop star and sick and tired of "the life" she quit and in trying to find herself became the assistant director of a fictional residence hall so she could have access to discounted education but quickly gets thrown into a murder investigation. Let the shenanigans ensue!
Although the books don't necessarily have to be read in order I would recommend doing so just so you can truly experience Heather's evolution from starving pop star to bigger but happier girl detective, and see her relationship with Cooper evolve and grow.
Although this wasn't my favourite of Heather's stories it was a solid next instalment, it was just unfortunate that I was able to finish it so quickly :)