Review: The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

The Princess Diaries

From HarperTeen: Mia Thermopolis is pretty sure there’s nothing worse than being a five-foot-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?

In The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, Mia already feels like the biggest freak on the planet, but finding out she’s actually a princess on top of it? Well, that’s just about the suckiest thing that could happen. Not only is she having to deal with not having a date for the big dance and her mom’s new boyfriend—who is also her teacher!—she is fighting with her best friend, Lily, and having to undergo princess lessons with her grandmother, who might just be the scariest woman alive.

I like the style of The Princess Diaries, in which the whole novel is Mia’s journal, complete with dates. The little notes about school work reminders at the bottom of the pages are a cute touch.

But Mia as narrator wore on me. I found her very whiny. There were definitely some laugh out loud moments and it was those moments that really saved this book for me. But some of the things Mia and Lily joke about made me uneasy, like antagonising perverts in the park and joking about shootings.

I did like that even though this is a princess make-over story, it doesn’t follow typical fairy-tail clichés. For example, Mia becomes a princess because testicular cancer made her dad unable to have more heirs—that’s a first in fairy tales stories for me! And then of course, there is the fact that she hates the idea of being a princess, which breaks the mould of the whole “every little girl dreams of being a princess” stereotype. Still, I found her reaction to being a princess unrealistic and small-minded, which made it hard for me to like her. I found myself thinking “So you’re a princess, boo hoo,” a lot.

Probably my favourite thing about this book is Mia’s grandma. She’s not your typical grandmotherly figure. Instead she’s snarky with tattooed on eyebrows and she smokes like a chimney (in other words, the exact opposite of Julie Andrews.)

I finished The Princess Diaries curious about what happens to Mia in the later books (there are about a dozen of them), but not curious enough to actually read my way through them. Someone could tell me what happens and that would be just fine with me.

♥ ♥ ½ (2.5/5 hearts)

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