Saturday Read: Runaway by Meg Cabot

To be honest, I had never really read much of Meg Cabot’s work. I dabbled in the Princess Diaries series (FYI: so superior to the movies) and I know she is a fabulously well-known chick-lit author, but nothing I saw ever enticed me to pick it up and give it a go. But after receiving “Runaway,” the latest in her “Airhead” series (“Airhead” and “Being Nikki” are the first two novels) from her publisher, I decided to give it a whirl. (Hey, it was a free book!)

And boy, am I ever happy I did! This was hands-down one of the most entertaining reads I’ve had in a loooooooong time.

The series focuses on two girls: Emerson Watts and Nikki Howard. Emerson is your average video-game playing nerd, while Nikki is a world famous supermodel and the face of Stark Industries, an amalgamation of business industry giants: Wal-mart, Victoria’s Secret, Apple, among others. They set up mega-stores that cause small businesses to shut down, they hold an annual lingerie fashion show featuring their Angels and they sell cutting-edge computer and electronics.

In the original novel, Nikki tried to blackmail Robert Stark, head of the company, and he tries to have her killed in a “freak accident” at one of the stores. Emerson Watts also happens to be in the store and have a similar accident happen: a TV falls on her head. Because Nikki is the face of the company, Robert still wants to use her body, so he has scientists engineer a body transplant, putting Emerson’s brain into Nikki’s body.

[Okay, take a breather, I know that was a lot to take in. But don’t worry, that’s as sci-fi as the book gets.]

“Runaway” starts off with Emerson (in Nikki’s body) being held hostage by Brandon Stark, son of Robert Stark, along with Nikki’s real mom, brother Steven and Nikki herself (again, in another body). Brandon is trying to get Nikki to reveal the secret that she was using to blackmail his father until her unfortunate “accident” so he can use it to become the head of Stark Enterprises. However, the kidnapping is the least of their worries: Robert Stark is downloading information from customers who purchased his laptops and using it for something called Project Phoenix. And Emerson appears to be at the center of his plan. When her ex-boyfriend Christopher arrives to help her escape, they not only have to deal with Brandon, but also this new Stark mystery. And so it goes….

I don’t want to give anything else away so I’ll stop there, but this is definitely a book you need to pick up.

“Runaway” is so refreshing; here is a teen book that is actually SMART. I have to admit, I clumped Meg Cabot into the brainless (albeit entertaining!) chick-lit category, but this series has serious substance. The plot is well thought-out and so, so, so clever. I cannot say enough good things about the storyline in these books. And the best part is, everything Meg discusses is actually plausible: from appearing to model Stark after real-life corporations, to incorporating areas of neuroscience that I’m sure are not so far off! I thoroughly enjoyed “Runaway” and think that most of you will too! It’s fast-paced, funny and a great departure from the usual chick-lit we see.

Plus, with the weather warming up, it’s the perfect book to read while soaking up the sun.

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