Monday, November 10, 2008

Airhead by Meg Cabot

Main Characters: Ordinary high school student Em Watts and teen supermodel Nikki Howard
Location: New York City
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: YA Fiction, Comedy, Popular Culture, Celebrity, Identity

Emerson "Em" Watts has no time or patience for fashion or makeup or any of the superficiality of beauty. She is smart and academically driven, and in love with her best friend, Christopher, who does not see her that way. Em's little sister, Frida, on the other hand, is totally into what's in and what's out, wants desperately to be noticed by the popular kids at school, and is secretly trying out for the cheerleading squad.

When Em is dragooned into taking Frida to the opening of a new megastore, they are stunned (and in Frida's case, thrilled) when Nikki Howard and her entourage make an appearance. There is a freak accident and Em wakes up in the hospital. What the reader realizes long before Em does is that, omigod, she's been totally Skinned! Except instead of being put into a robot, she's been transplanted into drop-dead gorgeous Nikki Howard!

Having just read Robin Wasserman's book, I found it very interesting to read Meg Cabot's take on a similar situation. While Lia had to cope with the existential question of her own humanity, Em has to cope with a body that has different likes than she does--it rebels at the thought of an ice cream sundae and chocolate cookies and craves sea bass and tofu instead. She does begin to realize the power of beauty, though, and the heady feeling of having people look up to her. But while she's got two really hot guys vying for her attention, her heart yearns for Christopher who doesn't even look at her.

I really like the relationships that develop and change after Em's transformation, especially with Frida and Lulu, Nikki's best friend. It would have been so easy to make Lulu a frivolous piece of fluff--in other words, exactly what Em scornfully thought of all FFBF's (famous for being famous.) But Lulu, for all her dittziness, turns out to be a sweet and appealing friend.

There will be a second book, Being Nikki, which I am already looking forward to.

No comments: