Being Nikki is the sequel to Meg Cabot's Airhead, which I reviewed last month. This review will contain spoilers for Airhead, but not for Being Nikki. So, if you haven't read Airhead yet, I recommend that you stop here.
These books are fun, frothy young adult fiction, a cross between mystery, science fiction, and beautiful people/fashion novels. Being Nikki picks up shortly after Airhead leaves off. After being mortally injured by a falling flatscreen monitor, teenager Emerson (Em) has had her brain transplanted into the body of fashion model Nikki, the Face of mega-company Stark Enterprises. To protect her parents from financial ruin and possible jail time, Em is forced to live Nikki's life and honor her modeling commitments. All Em really wants to do is let her former best friend and erstwhile crush Christopher know that she's still alive, and find a way to win his heart. As Being Nikki begins, however, she finds herself caught up in the mystery of Nikki's missing mother.
I found Being Nikki to be compulsively readable. The are plenty of plot twists to keep the reader guessing. The premise is thought-provoking, too. I especially liked Cabot's various references to Em's mind/body interactions. Although she has her own brain and memories and attachments, she finds herself changed by Nikki's physical response to things, too. She can't eat foods that she used to like, etc. I think that the question of "are you your mind or are you your body" is endlessly fascinating (though treated in a much lighter manner here than in books like Skinned and The Adoration of Jenna Fox).
I like Em's voice, too. She's breezy and sarcastic, with a tendency towards hyperbole. She feels real (you know, for a girl who has had a brain transplant, and is now living as a top-tier supermodel). Here are a couple of examples:
"That was when I remembered. Why I was so depressed, I mean.
That was also when I let go of the cliff face.
It was just that, suddenly, being eaten by sharks seemed preferable to hearing the rest of Brandon's story." (Page 7)
"Okay, just calm down and smile at the nice sailor and go, "Okay, fine then. So I'll start calling private eyes first thing in the morning." Seriously. This was my life now? Well, why not? I'd already had a brain transplant and had to wear mascara every single day. Why not this?" (Page 67)
Being Nikki features several engaging supporting characters, too. They are quirky enough to be interesting, but still for the most part plausible. (With one possible exception, but to say who would be a spoiler).
All in all, Being Nikki is a fun read, perfect for teenage girls. I would consider this series a must-buy for middle school libraries, and a must-read for anyone who enjoyed Cabot's other teen series (Mediator and 1-800-Where-R-U). I'm looking forward to reading the third book in the series, Runaway, due out later this month.
© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).