A Review of The Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries #1), by Meg Cabot

The Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries, #1)

Goodreads Rating: 3.75 Stars
283 pages
Turtleback Books
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Mia Thermopolis is pretty sure there’s nothing worse than being a five-foor-nine, flat-chested freshman, who also happens to be flunking Algebra.

Is she ever in for a surprise.

First Mom announces that she’s dating Mia’s Algebra teacher. Then Dad has to go and reveal that he is the crown prince of Genovia. And guess who still doesn’t have a date for the Cultural Diversity Dance?

– – – – –

Quick Reasons: sometimes witty, mostly annoying main character (sorry, Mia, I just didn’t like you!); diary entry format that felt a bit stiff and disjointed; lots of differences from the movie that I wasn’t expecting; I just don’t think this book did it for me

So…you might all be shocked to learn that I never once picked up this series when I was younger. Not once! Part of this, I think, is because I didn’t know these books even existed until recently. It shouldn’t surprise you, therefore, to learn that I (sin of all sins, gasp of all gasps!) saw the movies before reading this. Which, I’ll admit, might have skewed my expectations just a little out of whack.

I’m not going to tell anybody, not even Lilly. Lilly would NOT understand. NOBODY would understand. Because nobody I know has ever been in this situation before. Nobody ever went to bed one night as one person and then woke up the next morning to find out that she was somebody completely different.

Let’s start with first things first here (just to, y’know, break the mold a little bit). I understand that Mia is only fourteen in this novel, and therefore should not live up to the expectations I set for her when going into this read given that, in the movie, she is older than this. However. I found her to be a bit… annoying. And infuriatingly whiny. And just all-around flat. Like, I get it—this is sort of a coming-of-age story…but I don’t feel like Mia at the end of this book was really that “grown” from Mia at the beginning, aside from the fact that she tells a certain jerkhead off in an instant of anger. I know, I know, there are like, 11 books in this series total, and therefore shouldn’t have expected much growth from a character who is, all-told, supposed to be rather immature. But…I dunno, I expected some? at least a little?

Also, can we just talk about how much nothingness happens in this book? Like…I was expected all sorts of wild, adventurous scenes, and instead was given vanilla ice cream. Where are the mint chocolate chips? The pecans? The banana slices? This read exactly as it was written: as diary entries. Except the person writing those entries is boring, complains way too much about silly things, and doesn’t leave her house often enough. Which in a way does fit with fourteen year olds…but also made this sort of a dull read. Quick, yes, but dull nonetheless.

Maybe nobody has a right to tell anybody to shut up. Maybe this is how wars get started, because someone tells someone else to shut up, and then no one will apologize.

There were some differences in the read that I found interesting…and a bit concerning, in some instances. For example—Mia’s grandmother. I fell absolutely in love with Julie Andrews’ portrayal of Clarice in the movie versions. Book version Clarice, though? Sort of mean, to be honest—and much more prone to “paparazzi baiting” than I expected. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Having loved the grandmother so much in the movies…I don’t know quite how to react to this weird and stilted facimile of a grandma now. Like…sure, she is much more LIKE royalty than I felt movie-Clarice is. But…I don’t like her. Then again, we aren’t given many honest glimpses of her, and given this is Mia’s diary… Well, I suppose you might say I feel as if the narrator has a bit of a biased opinion. Perhaps an untrustworthy one, at this point.

And that ending! Can we just talk about the ending for a second? Because…in less than 10% of the read, everything somehow miraculously closes itself up and ties itself off and works itself out. The ending felt VERY rushed to me, and contrived in a cliché and boring way. You expect me to believe that things suddenly went back to relative normalcy all because Mia stood up to the boy she thought she liked? It wasn’t very realistic, and felt a bit like the author just wanted to get it done and over with.

I whirled around. “It wasn’t just a kiss,” I said. I was getting really mad. “Maybe that’s how you wanted it to look, like it was just a kiss. But you and I both know what it really was: A media event. And one that you’ve been planning since you saw me in the Post. Well, thank you, Josh, but I can get my own publicity. I don’t need you.”

Overall…I’m disappointed. While I get this is meant to be on that cusp between “childrens” literature and “young adult” literature, I feel as if certain aspects were poorly done. I still recommend to lovers of “unexpected fairy tales,” diary entry formatting, and fluffy childrens literature…but I’m not sure I’ll be continuing on with this series. Can anyone tell me if it gets better? Because at this point, I don’t even want to pick up book two.