Thursday, July 9, 2015

Double Review: Royal Wedding - Meg Cabot

Royal Wedding
Meg Cabot 
Series: The Princess Diaries, #11
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

!!!!!!!!!!!! I had the pleasure of meeting Meg Cabot at BEA 2015 and it was quite an adventure (I mistakenly thought Dave Baldacci was her, you can read all about it in our BEA recap posts and look on in jealousy at my picture with Meg). Thanks to BEA and Meg Cabot for my copy of Royal Wedding!

Quick anecdote: when I was in middle school I used to volunteer at my local library over the summers as a "summer reading buddy assistant." My job was to watch the table and let people sign in on the book available, and on a good day, hand out bookmarks. Needless to say, it was a very thankless and quite frankly, really boring job. However, I was only supposed to leave my post during break times, so I got reallly into the shelf of books I was stationed next to -- it just happened to be the shelf of all of Meg Cabot's books. So sixth-grade-Amrutha hopped right on the Princess Diary train (I had already seen the first movie at this point), along with other iconic books of hers. When thinking of the authors that really shaped my childhood reading experience, Meg Cabot is one of them, so, this goes without saying, I loved this book too.

As Royal Wedding implies, Mia is getting married! This is the same Mia Thermopolis from the very first book, and she's back now as a 26 year old engaged (to Michael!!) princess ready to take on random political drama and obviously even more family drama on top of that. I just want to say how honestly happy I am that Mia is really similar to her character in the other books, but that she talks about how her teenage self had flaws, and showed normal character development for a someone who went from teen to adult. I was really afraid that Mia would either be completely different or exactly the same, but Cabot accomplished a happy medium that I'm mostly on board with. I thought some of her reactions were overly reminiscent of her teenage self -- I should hope 26 year olds have a little more chill than 16 year olds. I thought all the characters I grew up with (Michael, Grandmere, etc) all kept the same charms that I remembered them with but grew in their own rights (again though, not as much as desired).

Here's the deal -- there's no real way of going into this book without spoiling a lot of it, and I just don't want to do that because I can't do justice to the story the way the royalty of YA can. I will say this though: the new character that's introduced? (Once you read it, it'll become clear who I'm talking about) I thought that introduction and Mia's reaction were both really tacky and not well done at all, and thats where the book lost most of its points with me. This book had a couple questionable plot points and lacked /some/ of the sparkly romance flashy flash that I wanted from it, but all in all, still really good. This book is just a really light, breezy read and I got through it really quickly. While I feel like I enjoyed it way more because of the backstory and my personal attachment to these characters, I do think you could read the book as a standalone (especially if you know some backstory), mostly because this is branded as an adult book as opposed to YA. However, even though the characters do have some growth with age, its not enough to say that I think this book is an adult book, I think its just YA with adult-aged characters.

- Amrutha
Noor's Review
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 Stars

When I met Meg Cabot at BEA, she was wearing a tiara and the second I noticed that detail everything in my life felt fulfilled. As someone who owns a tiara (that I believe to very beautiful) and likes to break it out as frequently as possible -- it was a very popular choice of headwear on the days near my birthday -- I felt a strong connection to her. Like Amrutha, I was very familiar with the Meg Cabot shelf of the library, although unlike Amrutha, I was not bound there through a job. Anyway, I was super excited for this book ended up finding it adorable and lovely.

Something I'd like to point out is that it you can definitely read this book without being caught up with all the books in the series. I'm personally someone who would just read everything but to each their own so if the idea of 11 books seems daunting you only really need the backstory so if you watch the movies and read it, or read the first one or two and then read Royal Wedding, you'll definitely keep up. Like Amrutha said, the book works as a standalone if you understand the backstory, which was nice because it's definitely been a very long time since the last time I read a Princess Diaries book so I'm glad it didn't rely on remembering super insignificant details from random books in the middle of the series.

One of my favorite parts of the book was Mia's voice. It was more refined, her being 26 and all, but still retained her original charm. It was so interesting to see the shift from 14 year old Mia freaking out about finding out she's a princess and 26 year old Mia and the way she handled freaking out about things like getting married, political turmoil in Genovia and nearby countries, and some family troubles. She was much more composed and -- in her terms -- "self-actualized." For instance, before Michael was proposing to her, she was worried about his behavior, but quickly dismissed it by realizing it was highly unlikely he was breaking up with her and that he would most likely not have spent so much money to do so (they were partaking in birthday celebrations) and so she "squashed that thought." Of course, sometimes she got a bit obsessive about things, like her rating on or her eye twitch that may or may not have been existent. I loved the way this nature added to her character. She was also hella politically correct all the time which was amusing to read and something I liked about her character.

Anyway, like Amrutha said, most of the major plot points are also major spoilers, besides the whole wedding thing which is kind of a given. I thought Mia's internal reaction to the other big thing that happened besides the wedding was a bit over-the-top and then her actual handling of the situation was kindof unrealistic. Also, I'm not sure how to explain this, because my issue isn't that things worked out too smoothly because in this type of book you kindof expect -- and want -- the happy ending, but the way they were smoothed over, if that makes sense?

My only other grievance, which is pretty minor, is that I wish there was more of Lilly Moscovitz, Mia's best friend and my favorite character. I just love her stubborn, abrasive personality and I wish there was more of her in the book considering how close of a bond her and Mia are supposed to have -- not that that bond seems weakened here, just that there's less of her character. The parts she's present in, she'd written fabulously.

In fact, all of the writing is spot on and all of the characters are developed wonderfully. Michael is gracious and charming and swoon-worthy, while Mia's rotating casts of both philanthropist friends and royal staff all offer gems of advice, quotes, and complaints as the book progresses.

All in all, I definitely loved the book. It was such a fun book to read and the issues I had with it weren't enough to take away from the experience as a whole and to stop me from enjoying the quirks of the story. I would definitely recommend the book, to both fans of the whole series and to those who have only seen the movies, it's guaranteed to be amusing and entertaining to all parties. (I agree with the majority opinion, though, it's definitely a YA book -- at most New Adult -- definitely not the Adult book it's being marketed as.)

- Noor

When was the last time you felt like royalty?
Let us know in the comments!

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