Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Book Review: The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Series: The Princess Diaries (Book #1)
Publisher: HarperTrophy
Release Date: 30th May 2000
Read Date: 20th September 2015
Tagged Under: 5, 2015 read, book review, audiobook, book to film adaptation, romance, YA-fiction

Book Summary

Mia must take princess lessons from her dreaded grandmere, the dowager princess of Genovia, who thinks Mia has a thing or two to learn before she steps up to the throne. 
Well, her father can lecture her until he's royal-blue in the face about her princessly duty - no way is she moving to Genovia and leaving Manhattan behind. 

Book Review

The Princess Diaries is one of those rare cases where I watched the movie before I read the book. *gasp* I know, I know.

In my defense, I was in grade 6 when the movie came out and I think I didn't know it was a book-to-film adaptation until possibly grade 10 of high school when I discovered Meg Cabot's other works such as The Mediator series. Yet in all the years that have passed between grade 10 and now, I have never picked up the actual book.

Until now.

Well, not really. I borrowed The Princess Diaries audiobook from my library. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision and largely swayed by the fact that Anne Hathaway is the narrator. But once I picked it up, I was completely hooked.

Amelia Thermopolis, or Mia to all her friends, is just another 14 years old teenager, trying to survive high school and everything it comes with: social ladder, body issues and worst of all - maths. But just when she thought life couldn't get much worse being the tallest girl in school and still have no bust, Mia's life gets turned upside down when her father arrives and informs Mia she is actually Amelia Mignonette Girmaldi Thermopolis Ranaldo, Princess of Genovia.

Picking up the audiobook was the best decision ever. Anne Hathaway is a great narrator and perfectly in character throughout the entire novel. I'm not just saying that because she was Mia in the Disney film. Hathaway's voice is warm and lively, putting emphasis on phrases just as a teenage girl would when she is writing a diary, and puts on the best accents when she is impersonating the other characters. As far as audiobooks go (and I have had many false starts with audiobooks in the past), this one is right up there with the best.

As a novel on its own, I would have still really enjoyed it if I had read it. Like any Meg Cabot book, the main character is full of spunk and has a very strong and funny voice, which really shines in the first-person POV writing style. And the writing style is clearly one of a 14 years old girl, creating a very realistic feel to the narration. The book really has the feel of a girl's diary, with full of to-do lists and resolutions scattered throughout, making it fun.

Another fun factor of this book is the comparison between the novel and its film adaptation. There are a lot of differences. But for some reason (maybe it is because I watched the film first), I didn't get mad like I would have if any other film deviated dramatically from the novel. Both the novel and the film worked in their own way (and had issues in their own way too).

However, I think ultimately The Princess Diaries series is targeted towards a younger audience. As I was listening along, there are minor quirks about Mia's voice - the way she constantly presses the point she is a vegetarian or whines to the world about her woes - that I would have gotten a kick out of if I had read this series in high school but as an adult, I just chuckled indulgently knowing this is the voice of a 14 years old.


In conclusion, The Princess Diaries is a fun-filled fast-paced novel about a very familiar princess. If the book stands on its own, I would rate it a solid 4 stars. With Anne Hathaway's narration bringing the story alive, it's definitely worth the full 5 stars. I would highly recommend the audiobook to everyone!

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