My rating: 5 of 5 stars
For some people, it’s Harry Potter or Twilight that really gets them into reading. For others, it’s The Princess Diaries. For me, it was a strange combination of all three.
I first started reading The Princess Diaries series back in 2002, at the tender age of 8. I read every book after book four as it came out, following Mia’s adventures as a high school princess and culminating in a little happy ever after (getting back together with her best friend’s brother, Michael). Now Mia is turning 26, hounded by the press, who claim she’s carrying twins sired by ‘the World’s Greatest Lover’ (Michael Moscovitz). The press are speculating about why Michael won’t marry Mia, and as Mia gets more and more stressed about political conflict and her dad’s erratic behaviour, Michael whisks her off to a secluded island, where he proposes (a big surprise in a book called Royal Wedding). What follows is a series of twists and turns leading up to the wedding, especially after Mia finds out she has a secret half-sister, Olivia Grace (the protagonist of the sister series ‘From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess’).
The format of the book is standard TPD fare – it’s written in the form of diary entries by Mia, with press articles and invitations ‘stuck in’, and some conversations taking the form of emails and text messages. This format is so easy to read, and it’s so easy to read ‘just one more chapter’ because the diary entries are often a few pages at most.
Reading this book was like catching up with old friends, but it’s not only Mia and Michael who return. A whole host of characters from the first series of books – Lilly, Grandmere, Rocky, Perin, Ling Su, Lana, Trisha, JP, Boris, Tina, Lars, etc. – are back in some form or another. This is, of course, explained away by the fact that it’s hard to make new friends once you’ve become a Princess of Genovia. Kudos to Meg Cabot for being able to write the same characters at different points in their lives convincingly – these are definitely the same characters we all know and love, just a little older, with new problems. My only problem with this is that it’s a little unrealistic that Mia would have kept in touch with all of her high school friends, and her college experience is mentioned perhaps once or twice. It would have been great to see some new characters and perhaps left some of the original characters to a sentence or two mentioned in passing.
My only issue with the plot is that the whole long-lost half-sister issue overshadowed the wedding (which is what the book really promises to be about) and there’s a few twists which struggle to be believable (then again, this is a book about a girl who discovers she’s a princess). We don’t even see the wedding (there’s a six-week time jump) or really any of the planning going into it, which is a shame.
I really enjoyed this book (I was grinning during the last few pages) and can’t wait for the next installment (which has definitely been teased in the last chapters). Hopefully the next installments will introduce new characters and antagonists, and continue to be on excellent form.
A sidenote: in the UK, this is marketed as a stand-alone novel, with no real mention that it is a continuation of The Princess Diaries (which it undoubtedly is). Considering that Meg Cabot has written other series, I can imagine that a lot of potential readers wouldn’t have realised that this is Book 11, although it could be read as a stand-alone novel/series. I would definitely recommend reading the other books first, to get acquainted with the characters and the story (some of which I had admittedly forgotten).
Have you read Royal Wedding? What did you think? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks 🙂