[Series Review] Revisiting The Princess Diaries

08:48 Cilla P 4 Comments

Title: The Princess Diaries (I-X)
Author: Meg Cabot
Source: Bought and borrowed
Synopsis: All she ever wanted was for her best friend's brother to notice she was alive-and to pass freshman Algebra. But now that her dad's told her she's heir to the throne of the country of Genovia (and that her horrible Grandmére is going to be giving her princess lessons every day after school) Mia Thermopolis has enough problems to fill a lifetime of diaries....

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Review:

Over the past year, I have been slowly rereading The Princess Diaries. I reviewed some of the books as part of my book club with Cam. I haven't bothered with the last few (for reasons that I'll discuss in a moment) and decided to do one review for the first ten books now that I've finished them.



As a whole, the series is exactly as I remembered it from my teenage years: fun, addictive, and relatable. Mia's voice is unique, and though she grows up and changes, it doesn't waver. I cringed so hard at some of her choices and trains of thoughts - it's harder to relate now that I'm about seven to eight years older than Mia in the last book - but they were always true to her character. I cheered for her whenever she had her moments of triumphs, because some of them were pretty awesome. 

In fact, I'd say the series' main strength is all of the voices. Even when the plot is lacking (and towards the end, it was seriously stretched thin), the relationships and clashes of the characters hold my attention. Though the series was largely about Mia growing up, some of the highlights of the series is the romance between Mia and Michael, and the dynamics between Mia and her friends. There are few book boyfriends as wholly gorgeous as Michael Moscovitz, honestly. Even my cynical side swooned at some of his romantic gestures.

Being older means I'm reading this series with an awareness about representations (or lack thereof). I was delighted to note that The Princess Diaries is filled with a diverse cast. Some of them feel a touch stereotypical (e.g., Tina Hakim Baba's oil tycoon father), and there is at least one occasion where Mia was casually condescending of different people (like how Boris' sweater-tucking is un-American). It isn't perfect, but at the same time, Mia is surrounded by people of different cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations.

One of the things that seriously frustrated me about this series is how thin the plots of some of the latter books can be. I know Mia is obsessive about little things, and little things are important when you're a teenager, but did we really need an entire book about whether Michael loves her or is in love with her? I've read Royal Wedding too, and there's enough plot in that for four books in this series.

I'm also quite ambivalent about the amount of pop culture references in this series. I was unfamiliar with American pop culture when I first read the books, and so the references to Party of Five and Lifetime movies went right over my head. My friend pointed out, however, that for her this was a learning opportunity - something that exposed her to a different culture. Soo I guess it depends on your viewpoint.

All in all, The Princess Diaries is light-hearted with moments of genuine emotions and memorable characters. The voice of the narrator and the story is squarely geared toward teenagers though, and it may be difficult as an older reader to relate. Still, it could be fun!




Let's talk!
Have you read The Princess Diaries? 
How would you react if you found out you were a royalty?




Reading this series contributes to the following challenges:

  • Goodreads Challenge
  • Around the World 2016
  • The Backlist Books Reading Challenge
  • #RockMyTBR Challenge

4 comments:

  1. I read the first 8 books in this series and for some reason just couldn't be bothered with the last two, I love Meg Cabots writing but I think the series grew a bit tedious for me after a while!

    I would also be a worse princess that Mia I think!

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    1. I had the same issue with the series, but really wanted to read Royal Wedding, so I pushed on. It definitely got tedious in the middle though! I think I would be a worse princess than Mia too, particularly with all the politics!

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  2. I really need to read this series. I love the first movie. The concept is so fun.

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    Replies
    1. It is fun to read! Though be warned that the books are quite different from the movie in terms of character details. The books' Grandmere is so not Julie Andrews.

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