Thursday, January 08, 2009
Review: Forever Princess
2009; HarperTeen; 978-0-06-123292-3 (hardcover)
ARC provided by Meg Cabot's publicist via Libarilly Blonde
Summary: Mia Thermopolis, high school senior and princess of Genovia, is juggling many secrets. She's told all her friends she didn't get accepted by any college--but she got accepted by all she applied to. She said her senior project was on the Genovian olive oil industry--but it's really a four-hundred-page romance novel set in medieval England. And even when she tells the truth, like not really wanting to go to the prom, no one seems to believe her. What college will Mia pick? Will she find a publisher for her novel? And how can she deal with the return of Michael, her ex-boyfriend? It's a lot for anyone to handle, but Mia's not just anyone--she's a princess.
Three Things To Know About Forever Princess
#1: The more things change, the more they stay the same?
Forever Princess jumps from where Princess Mia (Book IX in the Princess Diaries series) left off, to the last week of Mia's high school career. During the time when she wasn't writing in her journal, due to writing her romance novel (a clever explanation for the time jump), a lot has changed for Mia. She's been in therapy to deal with her control issues. She's no longer friends with Lilly, while Lana, her former enemy, is now part of her circle of friends. Genovia has become a constiutional monarchy and her father is running for Prime Minister. But with all these things, there's still plenty of turmoil for Mia to face, and the fun of The Princess Diaries is seeing how she confronts these challenges. Happily, Forever Princess is able to walk the line of giving us the same old Mia and a new, more mature Mia. Cabot is to be commended for achieving such a delicate balance, all the while keeping several plot threads progressing.
#2: Opposites really do attract.
Mia and Michael had a messy breakup when Michael chose to go back to Japan to work on an invention. When he returns, now a success, Mia's friends naturally expect her to want Michael again. But Mia won't hear anything about it. After all, she's with J.P., who's perfect for her. He's sweet and affectionate. He always agrees with her. He's every girl's ideal boyfriend. Except . . . he smells like dry-cleaning solution. And he did write a play that's a thinly-disguised version of their relationship. And he didn't ask her to the prom until a week before the event. But that isn't worth breaking up with him, is it? Even though Michael always smells amazing to Mia and makes an incredibly generous gesture that helps Genovia? Mia doesn't know what to do, until an old friend comes through for her.
#3: True friends forgive.
Mia learns a lot about her friends in the last week she'll have with them. She finds that her lies--about her novel, about college--don't really matter to her true friends. Even more important, as Mia has changed, so have her friends. But they're still friends. So Tina can reveal the lie she's told Mia. And Mia can find out the truth about why Lilly stopped being her friend. Perhaps one of the most satisfying moments in the whole novel is when Lilly and Mia talk, really talk, for the first time in two years. The conversation not only lets the characters reconnect but allows Mia to start figuring out her romantic tangle. For long-time readers of the Princess Diaries series, this moment is both the characters' and the reader's nostalgic encounter with an old friend, right before they part ways. And like our truest and best friends, Lilly is able to help Mia get on the right path.
Forever Princess is a fitting conclusion to the Princess Diaries series. Cabot took a chance leaping the action forward, yet this choice allows us to appreciate the changes in Mia that still hasn't really changed her. Amidst a range of celebrations and sadness, we can be grateful that Mia, and all the people she knows, has had a great send-off.
Read the first 80 pages, if you can't wait to get the actual book. And don't forget to buy Ransom My Heart, Mia's romance novel.
Reviews: YABookNerd, Genre Go Round. And an article from last month's Publisher's Weekly covers the end of the Princess Diaries.