Queen of Babble, by Meg Cabot

I try to avoid romance novels that feature heroines under the age of twenty-six*. There are a few books about people in their early twenties that are okay, but I prefer to read about people that have their heads on at least semi-straight before they make any major decisions about their life partners. Let’s face it: most of us spend our early twenties wondering when, exactly, we’re going to figure out this whole adulthood business. We’re way too clueless to achieve the happily-ever-after featured in most romance novels—and Lizzie Nichols, the heroine of Meg Cabot's most recent novel, Queen of Babble, is more clueless than most.

Lizzie is a twenty-two-year old girl with big dreams. She’s just earned a degree in the History of Fashion. She has a long-distance boyfriend, Andrew, whom she’s planning to fly out and visit in London as soon as her graduation ceremony is over. Her future’s so bright she has to wear shades...

...or so she thought. Lizzie didn’t bother to read her graduation requirements, and she discovers that she needs to write a fifty-page thesis paper before anyone will actually give her a degree. She barely knows Andrew, and he turns out to be far from the man of her dreams. Her plans for her future have focused on stuff like the names for the four children that she’ll one day have, so she hasn’t ironed any of those pesky details about where she’ll be living after she gets back from visiting Andrew, or who will hire a girl with a degree in the History of Fashion. In short, she’s a total ditz. But over the course of the novel, Lizzie flies to London, is disillusioned about Andrew, joins her best friend (who’s working in France), meets a new guy (hot investment banker Jean-Luc), falls in love, repairs a vintage couture dress, and discovers her true calling. Achieving a perfect life takes her about, oh, a week.

No Meg Cabot book is a total rip-off. Even her worst novels are an amusing way to waste time. And Queen of Babble has its charms—Lizzie is an expert on vintage clothing, and the scenes where she works on the damaged dress are awesome. Each chapter starts with a snippet of her thesis on fashion history, and I learned several interesting facts. (Did you know that the ancient Egyptians used dried alligator dung as a spermicide? Because I sure didn’t. Lizzie’s thesis suggests that this would explain their fondness for easily washable linen fabrics.) This book had all of the standard Cabot advantages: quirky humor, amusing secondary characters, fun nods to pop culture. Plus, unlike a few of Cabot’s recent series installments, it felt like a complete story.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past what an idiot Lizzie was. Her impulsive behavior might be realistic, but that doesn’t make it any more appealing. She falls in love at light speed, she’s incapable of keeping her mouth shut, and she’s constantly making an ass out herself. Even lessons that she seemed to have learned, like the importance of getting to know a guy before you commit to him, didn’t stick with her for more than a few seconds—even though they’ve only known each other for about three days, Lizzie is sure that she and Jean-Luc are, like, soulmates. She's an overgrown teenager, which made Cabot's very adult happy ending even more eye-roll inducing.

Actually, this entire book (apart from the sex scenes) felt like a teen novel. And that’s just one more reason to dislike it—after all, most YA hardbacks cost around sixteen dollars, while Queen of Babble was $21.95. That’s way too much money for a book this irritating. Wait until it’s in paperback—or better yet, check it out from the library, and go buy a romance novel that features actual grown-ups.

*Exception: historical romance novels, seeing as it's only relatively recently that unmarried women past the age of twenty-three weren't considered hopeless old maids.
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


robotic princess
robotic princess
06 Jun, 2006 05:28 AM @ version 0

Meg Cabot needs to Take. Her. Time. for once, and stop trying to churn out books to fast--her quality is really suffering! (Although she could go ahead and speed through another sequel to the "1-800" books. I wouldn't mind that. Anything to find out what the hell Rob did to get probation, you know?)

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