Super Series Saturday: The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Guys. I read the first five Princess Diaries book in high school. And I ate them up like candy. I have heard people complain that they are stupid, brain-candy, showcasing girls overly obsessed with boys, etc. Many of these accusations are probably true. But that doesn't change the fact that they entertain me exceedingly. So when I found out that there were more of them, I decided to read the rest. Rather than inundate you with many Princess Diaries reviews (especially since each book is really just more of the same hilarious, addicting snark), I thought I'd just give them to you all at once. And then I decided it was such a good idea to do that, I turned it into a new feature. These reviews won't be in depth like my usual reviews... just brief summaries and my reaction to the book.

Princess Mia decides to go on a Habitat for Humanity trip. After all, Michael is going, and there may be clandestine opportunities to kiss. It isn't easy to hammer, and the opportunities are sparser than Mia desires, but she still learns something.

I enjoyed Mia's interactions with the people she was helping. Short, sweet, and entertaining.

Lilly the psychotic has nominated Mia for student body president, with the mad idea that she can just abdicate (er... resign) so that Lilly can then take over. Everyone else seems to think it is good practice for ruling Genovia some day. It isn't the only thing on her mind -- Michael is going to college, leaving Mia insecure and sad about not seeing him at school.

I thought this was empowering for Mia. Even though she is still insecure and neurotic, she realizes she is capable of success. She can be popular, she can deal with Michael not being there every second. She is still boy-crazy, but I thought it was refreshing to see her with a little autonomy. Also, LOVE all the pop culture references, especially about the Princess Diaries movies and how they are different from her real life.

Lilly and Michael are coming to Genovia for Christmas (their parents don't care, because they are Jewish), and Mia is determined to have the perfect present for Michael. And also, clandestine kissing.

This book was way too "Gifts of the Magi" for me. I don't really like that story, and I've heard it every single Christmas at least 4 times for the last 23 years.

Michael is throwing a party. A real college party, with girls. However, Mia isn't so sure that the party is her scene. She's also not sure if Michael still likes her, since he is suddenly feeling this need to party. In addition, the student government is broke and Grandmere has a disturbing new scheme to win back the money.

I loved this one as well. We finally meet the boy who hates when they put corn in the chili, and he is awesome. It was fun to see a new friend dynamic in Mia's group. Also very interesting the way he seems attracted to Mia, and the way she seems to be at least a little attracted back. It doesn't hurt that Michael is a little less dreamy/swoony in this book, starting to act like an adolescent boy. Made me kind of wonder if it would be so terrible if Mia moved on from her college boy.

Grandmere wants Mia to be on some MTV sweet sixteen show... but Mia just wants to hang out with Michael. Whatever shall be done?

Mildly entertaining, but not memorable.

This book randomly takes us back a few years to Mia and Michael's first Valentine's Day. Michael doesn't seem to be into Valentine's Day, but Mia desperately wants it all - the flowers, jewelry, and sap.

I thought this was cute. Mia supports her friends, and we see all their varying reactions to romance (or the lack of). This is short and sweet like the other "half" volumes, and is probably the most entertaining.

Mia thinks Precalculus is the worst thing that ever happened to her. And then she finds out Michael is going to Japan for a year because he is brilliant and has invented a life-saving device. So she should be happy for him, but instead she is dying inside.

This is the Book of Drama. Mia can't understand how Michael could leave, even though she knows she should be happy for him. J.P. (the boy who hates when they put corn in the chili) is eager to help her feel better, even though he is dating Lilly. Mia is trying to figure out just how she is feeling and whether it is worth it to give away her Precious Gift (her words, not mine) to Michael to show him she is committed. This was probably one of my least favorite of the books -- even though a lot happened and I was eager to get to the end, the drama was unpleasant and I was frustrated with the characters.

Mia and Michael are over, and the tabloids are on fire with photos of her with John Paul Reynolds-Abernathy the IV (aka J.P.). Mia thinks she likes him... he is so nice, and seems like the perfect guy, even taking her to Beauty and the Beast. But. She just doesn't feel what she felt for Michael. To make matters worse, Lilly isn't speaking to her, there is a website online called, and Michael is the one who dumped her.

So, this is Book of Drama, volume 2. However, I enjoyed it much more than Princess on the Brink. Mia has hit rock bottom, and she has some really rough moments. However, I think she makes a lot of personal growth in this book. Her life isn't perfect, but she finds a way to get out of bed and face the day (eventually). I think this book also illustrates the fact that things change in high school. Most relationships aren't forever, close friendships sometimes end, and enemies can get over it and become friends (I know I experienced all of the above). I will say that the book seems very different from the previous novels in the series -- at times I felt like I was in a Princess Diaries alternate universe.

Two years from the previous book, Mia is about to graduate. She goes shopping with Lana. She sees a shrink every Friday. She's written a romance novel (although all of her friends think it is a research paper about Genovia). She emails Michael sometimes. She is dating J.P. She and Lilly never talk. But Michael is home from Japan, and he wants to see her. So what now?

This book was a great ending to this series for me. Mia is living her life. She has made some changes -- she is still neurotic, but sometimes she disobeys her parents. She is dating J.P., who I liked way better than Michael (at the beginning of this book, at least). She hangs out with Lana, who calls her Geek but seems to genuinely like her in her shallowly-programmed way (although I do agree with Lana that PinkBerry does solve everything). And Michael is back -- and he is mature, handsome, charming -- not the obnoxious college boy of Party Princess and Princess on the Brink. And suddenly J.P. starts doing weird things -- which doesn't seem to fit in with his personality of the earlier books, but I guess I'll let it slide -- and suddenly doesn't seem so perfect, after all. (Just out of curiosity... what is a promise ring? Why that instead of getting engaged? End of brief aside). I found myself emoting hardcore with this book -- something I wasn't expecting with this "fluff" read. I became physically giddy whenever Michael entered the scene. I think this book could stand on its own, although knowing the history behind it makes it much more fun.

So in sum total? A fun series. Some volumes are definitely more enjoyable than others, but Cabot finishes strongly with Forever Princess.


  1. Now you made me want to re-watch the movies:) I love the movies, but I haven't read any of the books. I should pick them up someday.

  2. This was so fun to read. I kind of want to go find the series and enjoy them over Christmas.

    Also, love that you're reading Rebecca. Such a good book.

  3. i LOVE the princess diaries. as a fiction writing major, i think we are always expected to read Hemingway and Faulkner all the time, but the Princess Diaries is SO entertaining. in fact, i often say that the princess diaries series is a series that i wish that I would have written!

    maybe you will have some comments to add to my little e-book club? Every wednesday i review a new book :)

  4. @Pepca -- The movies are VERY different, but I love them too! The books are fun and fluffy reads. :)

    @Allison - It is so good! I read it a long time ago but forgot most of the details so I am enjoying getting it again. And I totally reread at least parts of the first Princess Diaries book almost every time I go home. It never fails to make me laugh!

    @kitten roar - I love your perspective on not just reading "high" literature. There is so much out there that is fun, even if it isn't "literary." I will go check out your ebook club :)


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