Review: “The Mediator Book 1: Shadowland” by Meg Cabot

Review: “The Mediator Book 1: Shadowland” by Meg Cabot

A review by Vanessa.

Susannah Simon has a special gift. Well, she wouldn’t call it a gift, really, because it certainly comes with its obligations. Namely, the requirement that she speak to and help out all of the dead people whom she can see. As much as she would prefer to ignore them and be a normal high school sophomore, their reasons for hanging around sometimes interfere with her life; and her life has enough interference already. Her mother has married a really nice guy named Andy, and although Suze approves of him for her mom she’s not so happy about the moving from New York to Carmel, CA. Or being stuck with three new annoying stepbrothers, and changing schools, and leaving her one and only friend behind. What’s worse is that her new home has an unwanted guest residing in her bedroom. His name is Jesse, and he was so obviously young, handsome, with six-pack abs, lovely dark eyes, and gorgeous hair when he died. Suze doesn’t like having him as a distraction when she is trying to adjust to all the changes. But he is not the only distraction she finds.

Suze is startled to find several surprises waiting for her at her new high school. There is Heather, the very angry and dangerous dead girl haunting her locker. Then there is Father Dominic, the school’s principal, who it turns out is a mediator just like her! Suze doesn’t know what to think about meeting someone like her for the first time ever, and fitting in with other kids at the school. It seems like things might be ok in her new life. But Heather has some very dark revenge to enact and Suze is just getting in her way. Plus her youngest new stepbrother, a sweet and super smart kid who Suze actually likes, seems to know way more than he is saying. She’s always taken care of things all on her own, but this time it might be too much for her. Can she stop Heather, and protect the people in her life that she is really starting to care about?

As always, Meg Cabot delivers a wonderfully well told story of young life, but this time with a supernatural twist. Her famous Princess Diaries series may have put her on the map as an author but this series showcases her ability write in the paranormal genre as well. Her characters are totally engaging, and utterly realistic. The supporting characters fit right into all the expected tropes, but at the same time each of them holds their own interest for the reader. They might be typical, but they are so great to read it just doesn’t matter. Suze is both a “typical high school girl” and a very unique character. She struggles with school, friends, boys, raging hormones, and annoying brothers. She thinks about fashion and clothes, and what it would be like to be kissed.  But in between all that she struggles with suppressing her own emotions to accommodate the happiness of her mother, the ever present influence of death, the moral implications of forcing a ghost to cross over unwillingly, and the guilt that comes with being forced to lie to her family and friends for their own good. She also harbors a quick temper and some violent tendencies that make her an ever more interesting character. The only drawback to this book would be that some of the stereotypes might be embraced a bit too willingly. But even then, the characters cannot be described as boring or one dimensional. I love this series, and I would recommend it to young, and adult readers alike.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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Review of “Size 12 Is Not Fat” by Meg Cabot

Review of "Size 12 Is Not Fat" by Meg Cabot A review by Vanessa.

Heather Wells “just has one of those faces.” Or at least that is what she keeps telling everyone who thinks they know her. Because they do know her, former teen pop sensation that she is, but Heather is just as happy remaining unknown. The reason she is not as recognizable may, or may not, have something to do with the weight she has gained in the last few years, or the break up with her still popular boy band sensation boyfriend, Jordan Cartwright. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t sing anymore, not in public, and instead she works as assistant director of the Fischer Hall residence hall, at New York College. After finding Jordan in flagrante with the new pop-sensation Tania Trace, Heather left her old life behind. Now Jordan’s super-hot, much more level headed, older brother Cooper has offered her a place to stay in return for keeping the books for his PI business. Cooper is just what Heather needs; except for the part where he is utterly clueless about her feelings.
That’s okay though, because Heather has other things to worry about. Two girls in her residence hall have apparently fallen to their deaths while elevator surfing, but Heather has some doubts. She knows the residents in her hall, and those girls were not the miscreant elevator surfing types. When she takes her suspicions to Cooper and the police, she is of course rebuffed as an overzealous amateur sleuth. While dodging the sudden unwanted return of her ex, Heather is just trying to make it through her probationary period at work so she can take advantage of the free tuition to get her degree. But she can’t just sit back and watch more of her students die. In a series of mishaps
and happenstance luck, Heather is hot on the trail of what she suspects is a murderer. But she may just be standing in the way of danger, and she’s the only one who can figure it all out.

Meg Cabot, as always, has created a funny, quirky, and likable set of characters and thrown them into an interesting mystery plot that is unendingly entertaining. Heather is sweet, and endearing, while managing to be slightly neurotic, admirably brave, and determined. Her one flaw might be the flaky nature of her desires and her tendency to obsess over her romantic entanglement with Cooper. However, she highlights the fascinating aspects of the capably incapable heroine. With a family history that could make anyone cringe, Heather as a character still manages to be plucky without being annoying. Her life is what it is, and though she wishes it were different, she’s not exactly one to sit around moping about it. She knows what she wants, even though it changes frequently, and she knows what she has to do, even when she doesn’t want to. But her determination makes her an utterly likable heroine, and her weight struggle is an all-too-relatable aspect of her story. Her interest in Cooper is understandable. He is handsome, mysterious in certain ways, and believably skeptical of Heather’s ideas. But when it comes to being there for her, he never fails. Accompanied by a cast of interesting and equally quirky characters, Heather and Cooper are an interesting dynamic in the story. Cooper has already figured his life out and knows who he is, and Heather just wants that same surety. And she doesn’t think it should have to include losing any weight to find herself again. This books is a terrific set up for the series, with a solution to the mystery but plenty of potential for the characters moving forward. I’m hooked.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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