Friday, June 11, 2010
Being Nikki - Meg Cabot
In Airhead (Scholastic, 2008), Nikki Howard has the life most girls only dream of—she is a drop-dead gorgeous supermodel living it up in one of Manhattan's most luxurious buildings while partying with the super-famous, the beautiful, and the mega-rich. However, it isn't actually Nikki Howard who's enjoying it all. Emerson Watts's brain is in her body due to an accident that left the real Nikki brain dead and Em suffering a fatal accident at the Stark Megastore for which Nikki is the advertising face. Stark employs surgeons to perform a risky and expensive brain transplant on Em, and she must continue working for Stark Enterprises or her family will lose everything. Worst of all, she can't even tell her best friend and longtime crush Christopher who she really is. In this book, Nikki's brother turns up asking for his sister's help in finding their mysteriously missing mother, and Em realizes that there is a very dangerous side to Stark Enterprises. Em's narrative emphasizes the contrast between an ordinary teen and the high-stakes life of fame; she must reconcile a genuine longing for her best friend with the exuberance of over-the-top romantic gestures. Teens will relate to her down-to-earth self-deprecating humor and look forward to the next installment in Em/Nikki's life. (summary courtesy of Amazon.com)
I was right to think that Airhead, a clunky, somewhat irritating book, started off the series with enough promise that future books would be good. Being Nikki was a significant improvement over Airhead. The chief improvement was Emerson - I actually like her now. In Airhead, she was immature and selfish. Physically being Nikki Howard has been a true growing experience. Things are no longer black and white. She enjoys spending time with Lulu, an empty-headed but big-hearted girl, whereas before she would have completely dismissed her. She still hates on the Walking Dead mean girls at her school (some girls really have no good sides) but she sticks up for her sister's interesting in cheerleading. I also like that she spends more time worrying and considering her family. She's really trying to protect them. It's not always Em, Em, Em.
The plot is more interesting and more outlandish in the middle-book of the trilogy. Stark is unveiled as an evil bigger evil empire than we thought. There's truly nothing it won't do to stay ahead. Stark is portrayed as a ginormous company - something like Walmart on steroids. They've flooded the market with cheap, low-quality products. Emerson already knows that they're spying on her - through cameras in her apartment, through her computer, through her cellphone... She wants to get to the bottom of it. Luckily, Christopher comes to the rescue. He's a new boy - edgy, bitter, uncaring - full of rage at Stark over Emerson's "death." Together, Christopher and Emerson start to discover exactly how evil Stark is. I love the addition of Christopher's genius teenage hacker cousin Felix. The book ends with a fabulous climax. Will Nikki and her posse of friends & enemies be able to discover exactly what Stark is up to? More importantly, can they stop it or fix it?
Rating: 3.5 / 5