At the beginning of January, I set out as one of my "Reading Resolutions Challenge" goals to be finishing up the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot. Little did I know that I would pick up book eight and not be able to put the remaining three down until I did just that, finish the series in one swoop. It's not that I didn't enjoy the first books of the series, because I did, but have to say that the final three have a wonderful tension that create a story arc over the entire series that feels much like the climax and resolution. The reading was completely a joy!
Synopsis: (Spoilers Included) Let me say that I hate to really give anything away here! Mia has been dating her high school sweetheart Michael for several years. As she is still in high school, and he has headed off to college, their lives have taken different directions. Mia is still young, insecure, and nervous about life, while Michael has grown up a bit, is in college, and would like his relationship with Mia to evolve with him. In short, Michael cares about Mia, genuinely loves her, and wants to have sex. The way it is referred to often had me laughing out loud, and I could see how a young girl would be thoroughly freaked out by the prospect. Shortly after, Michael is offered an amazing opportunity to go to Japan to build a robotic, surgical arm. He feels that working on this will help him become more worthy of someone like Mia (a crowned princess), and will give her time to grow up and experience life for herself. As a result, the two break up, leaving Mia an absolute puddle.
Let me spell these final books out in short...Mia falls apart. Yes, she grieves Michael to the most dramatic depths of her teenage heart, but who hasn't felt that life wasn't worth living after losing a love? (If you haven't, then either it's coming, or you'll be lucky enough to marry that person and never have to experience it!) Although Mia goes on, and even begins dating dreamy J.P., it seems that Michael is never far from her mind.
The final book, Forever Princess, to me, was by far the best. I realize that book ten is a bit of a "resolution" book in and of itself, but I loved seeing Mia at the point of graduation, trying to get her romance novel published, and STILL having feelings for Michael. In short, she was "warm for his form" and feeling awfully guilty about it. She does have a new boyfriend, so who does that to your current squeeze? Yes, Michael has returned from Japan a wildly successful man, and seems to still be in love with Mia. How then can she resolve her feelings for Michael, figure out what college to attend (since they've all accepted the princess...of course), and get someone to publish her romance novel?
Review: I absolutely loved the final three books in this series. I wanted to finish the series, originally because: I'm a huge Meg Cabot fan, and I wanted to read Ransom My Heart, but had heard that it tied back to the Princess Diaries series and wanted the complete experience. Maybe it's because I teach high school students, or that I simply enjoyed getting to the heart of the series, but I loved seeing how Mia matured and worked through her feelings. I also really appreciated the head-on approach to teen sex. Gasp. Yes, I said it. Teens think about it, and yet (in my own opinion), very few people want to talk with them about it. In this series, Mia faces the challenge of being in an actual, loving "teen" relationship, yet not feeling ready to have sex. It wasn't that Mia was against it, which I think helped develop the thoughts about sex that maybe some parents and peers miss discussing--the emotional fears a teen has about sex. In Mia's case, she was afraid, and wanted to wait. Thankfully, she had a boyfriend who would...in a sense.
As a series, I think this was really entertaining, and brought up issues, insecurities, and thoughts that teens often encounter. Besides being something to relate to, they were simply fun to read. As an adult, if you're at all hesitant about reading these books, I might advise jumping to the last four books, reading summaries online. I think the last four books are quick reads, but are great and get to the heart of the series.
Now, I can go and read Mia's published novel (thanks, of course, to Meg Cabot), Ransom My Heart! For more information on any of the books, see: Princess on the Brink, Princess Mia, or Forever Princess.
*This review was based off of books checked out from the local library.
As mentioned, these books count towards my "2010 Reading Resolutions Challenge" as well as the "2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge."
I'm off to a great start this year on my reading challenges. How are you doing with your reading so far this year?