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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027
Runaway  - Meg Cabot I was really hoping for the series to redeem itself in this book, but unfortunately, that wasn't the case. There was a lot of potential in this series, which got promptly wasted.The big problem I keep coming back to is the characterization. It's definitely the weakest part in the series, and it shows. Em doesn't grow at all in three books; by the end, she's still dismissive of pretty famous people. Also, for someone who stresses about her intelligence and goes on about how smart she is, Em's kind of dumb. Everything important about Stark or the operation, someone has to spell it out for Em before she realizes the truth. I think the only thing she figures out on her own is the spyware on her computer in the first book. For example, when she and Christopher discover Project Phoenix, they both can't figure out what the name means. I can understand being confused with the city, but then they have to look up alternate meanings of phoenix, and they still can't figure it out. It's not until Em goes to the shareholders' auction that she finally figures out “phoenix = rebirth.” (And even then, she doesn’t make the symbolic connection.) Not to mention, I cried bullshit when Em said she didn't really know what a phoenix is. She plays a fantasy MMO, how the hell has she never heard of a phoenix. (Again, if you're going to call someone a geek, make them a geek! /tangent) She doesn't even realize Brandon's motives for keeping her and Nikki under lock and key; Em even buys into Brandon's excuse of "Oh, sure, we'll get you a surgeon to switch brains back." It would have been more believable if Em was book smart but really horrible with people, but this is never a part of her character. There's no foreshadowing to any of the revelations. We find out why Em's mom was so against superficiality and a straw feminist- it's because her mother stopped telling her that she was pretty! Aside from being a bullshit Freudian excuse, there's no lead-up to it. Em's parents only show up once a book, and after their appearance in the first book, they only exist to harp on her for neglecting her schoolwork. Our villain, Robert Stark, isn't menacing or even feels like a threat- he shows up once a book and leaves. The reveal about Project Phoenix auctioning off college students to do brain implants doesn't feel as earth-shattering or has any impact on the plot. Nikki could have had a great character arc about getting over her vanity and accepting her new body, but apparently, all Lulu has to do is make Nikki over into a Goth and suddenly everyone thinks she's hot again. *headdesk*And the plotting is just bad. The worst part is when Em sneaks into the Project Phoenix auction and secretly films it on her phone. Stark catches her and smashes it. While it's not a great plot twist, it still would have put an element of mystery to the plot- how they going to prove what's going? Can they still bring down Stark? But instead, Em goes to Lulu, calls Christopher, and reveals...that Stark broke her iPhone, but she filmed the meeting on her Stark phone. BAD WRITING 101. SHOW DON'T TELL. It doesn't help that ten pages later, Em repeats this information to Stark. There's a decent plot gun here that doesn't get used, and the whole conversation with Christopher should have honestly been cut in the editing stages. For a series about superficiality and accepting who you are, none of the characters ever seem to get this point. Everyone (except for the bad guys, of course) ends up happy, paired off and pretty. Em's still a model, but now she can tell people who she really is and is justified being a bitchy to the popular girls. Which...really? This is the happy ending? It's almost like an aborted prequel to the Uglies series, where everyone in the country is obsessed with looking pretty, but have to be reminded that "People shouldn't be judged by their looks!" But they still want to be pretty instead of just normal. It's even the bad guys' motivation- well, Stark's is just money, but all of the shareholders are willing to kill off attractive coeds just to look pretty and young again. I feel like there's supposed to be a commentary on how we as a culture view attractiveness, but it fails so hard by making all of the main characters superficially attractive and keeping them that way at end. (I know I keep harping on about this series, but seriously- Uglies. Read it.) There's some good points to the series, and the plot could have been decent. But Cabot drops the ball on the interesting plot threads, and the conflict never feels as big or as important as the characters make it out to be. (Not that I'm condoning the murder of attractive coeds, but you get my point.) It also feels like the books were set up to be a trilogy just for the sake of being a trilogy, and would have really worked better as just one volume. And I think I've gone on enough about how bad the characterization is.I've mentioned in another review that I know that Meg Cabot can write good, well-plotted books, but sometimes it feels like she just writes something for the sake of publishing it and as whole, this is what the Airhead series feels like to me. There's just too much wasted potential here, and it really disappointed me.