Being Nikki

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Being Nikki: An Airhead Novel
Author Meg Cabot
Country United States
Language English
Series Airhead
Genre Young adult
Publisher Point
Publication date
May 5, 2009
Published in English
May 5, 2009
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 352 pp
ISBN 978-0-545-04056-3
OCLC 264042231
LC Class PZ7.C11165 Bd 2009
Preceded by Airhead
Followed by Runaway

Being Nikki was written by author of the Princess Diaries series Meg Cabot, and is the second book in the Airhead series. This book is followed by Runaway.

Plot summary[edit]

Em Watts, while on a model shoot in St. John's for a Stark Brand deodorant commercial, clings onto a rock cliff over a group of nurse sharks, when she suddenly falls into the water, only to be rescued by Brandon Stark. Later, at the hotel, she gets a call from her apartment about a man who keeps coming to her door. Em returns to New York to find that the man is Nikki Howard's brother, Steven, bringing her the news that their mother has gone missing. She tries to convince Steven that she doesn't know anything, but barely gets him to believe her "amnesia" story. Lulu, attracted to Steven, invites him to stay in their loft.

Em notices that the loft has been bugged, and begins to watch her words. When she visits her real family, who are being bugged as well, she comes to the realization that she cannot return to her old life. As she leaves her family's apartment in tears, she encounters Christopher,[1] who tells her of his plans to take down Stark Enterprises for "killing" Em. She realizes that he must have loved her after seeing a picture of her former self in his bedroom. Christopher also says that he can assist in the search for Nikki's mother if Em can get him an account name and password for a Stark employee, and she reluctantly agrees to help.

At a rehearsal for the upcoming Stark Angels fashion show on New Year's Eve, Veronica, a Stark Enterprises model, warns Em to stop sending romantic emails to her boyfriend Justin Bay. Em insists that she has not been emailing Justin, but Veronica does not believe her. As Em completes her run and heads for the end of the catwalk, she trips over a pile of feathers ripped off a pair of Stark Angel wings- seemingly set up by Veronica. After the accident, Em is taken to the office of a Stark doctor, and, before she leaves, observes the doctor typing her username and password on a Stark employee login site. Em, Christopher, Lulu, and Steven visit Christopher's cousin Felix, who hacks onto the Stark IT mainframe with the newfound account details.

Later, at Nikki and Lulu's annual party, Christopher kisses Em and reveals that he knows her real name. He also confesses that he has always loved her, and regrets that it took her death for him to finally realize it. Em realizes that the disappearance of Nikki's mother is linked to Justin's emails. She asks Justin to borrow his cellphone, but when he refuses, Christopher and Gabriel Luna stage a physical intervention. Em and Christopher go through Justin's messages and, finding one from 'Nikki Howard', get Felix to track the message to the house of Dr. Jonathan Fong, a Stark neurosurgeon living in Westchester.

When they go to Dr. Fong's house, they discover that Nikki's mom and Nikki herself (now in the body of a drunk driver) are alive. Dr. Fong explains that he carried out the brain transplant after discovering that Nikki had not actually suffered an aneurysm, and that she has been recuperating in his house to avoid being found by Stark Enterprises. It is revealed that Robert Stark ordered Nikki's death after she tried to blackmail him with secrets she overheard about the Stark Quark laptop range. However, Brandon, who was left sleeping in the car, wakes up and enters the house. He threatens Em, telling that she must help him destroy his father's career, and leave Christopher. She unwillingly does so, and he takes Em, Steven, Nikki, and Mrs. Howard to his summer house to continue hiding from Stark.


  • Emerson 'Em' Watts/Nikki Howard: an overachieving tomboy whose brain was transplanted into supermodel Nikki Howard's body in Airhead. Although she has come to accept the high life, Em struggles to balance her family, modelling duties, education, and friendships, while searching for answers to the mystery of her transplant.
  • Lulu Collins: Em/Nikki's flatmate, a socialite and aspiring singer. She has an obvious crush on Steven, which he seems to be slightly disconcerted about.
  • Christopher Maloney: Em's former best friend and crush; she describes him as having turned into a dark, brooding "supervillain" as a result of her death. Their relationship deepens as he helps her in the search for Dee Dee, and she helps him on his mission to destroy Stark Enterprises.
  • Frida Watts: Em's younger sister, a freshman and cheerleader at Tribeca Alternative High School. Much to Em's annoyance, she insists on accompanying her to all of Nikki's events, even if it means skipping school.
  • Brandon Stark: Nikki's on-again, off-again boyfriend with a playboy reputation. Despite being the heir to Stark Enterprises, Brandon has a strained relationship with his father, who neglected him during his childhood.
  • Steven Howard: Nikki's elder brother, currently on leave from the U.S. Navy. Although he is initially mistrustful of Em, he agrees to work with her to find his mother.
  • Robert Stark: the CEO of Stark Enterprises, Brandon's father, and the implied antagonist of the novel. Em is intensely suspicious about his motives; at the end of the novel, it is revealed that he ordered the murder of Nikki Howard.
  • Gabriel Luna: a British singer-songwriter signed to the Stark music label, who performs a song about Nikki at the Stark Angels fashion show. He goes on a date with Em after the show rehearsal, and defends her at Nikki and Lulu's party. Frida has a crush on him.
  • Justin Bay: an ex-boyfriend of both Nikki and Lulu. He is portrayed as an arrogant, sleazy womanizer, and his behaviour towards Em and Frida at the party causes him to be physically attacked by both Christopher and Gabriel.
  • Nikki Howard: the teenage supermodel into whose body Em's brain has been transplanted. She is revealed to be alive at the end of the novel, with her brain now in the body of a DUI driver killed in a crash.
  • Dee Dee Howard: the mother of Steven and Nikki Howard. She runs a dog-grooming business in Gasper, and her disappearance propels Em's search.
  • Felix Maloney: Christopher's fourteen-year-old cousin, a computer prodigy currently under house arrest. He hacks into Stark Industries' mainframe to find information about the Howards.
  • Dr. Higgins: one of the doctors involved in Em's transplant. Em steals her employee account details to access the Stark mainframe.
  • Dr. Fong: a neurosurgeon who participates in Em's transplant and later saves Nikki. He hides Nikki and Mrs. Howard at his house to protect them from Stark.


  1. ^ Cabot, Meg. "Being Nikki excerpt". Retrieved 24 May 2012. 

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