Friday 30 September 2011
Devouring Books: The Princess Diaries Ten Out of Ten by Meg Cabot
Oh, Meg. May I call you Meg? You were an important part of my formative reading years, a refreshing, better written alternative to Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club, and Mia, of The Princess Diaries was definitely one of my favourite characters. She was so great- a character with beliefs, ideals, a total hippy mother and a dad who was a Prince. The least likely Princess ever, and yet, somehow, it didn't make her at all annoying, and, I'm not gonna lie to you- I loved her. A lot.
You might have noticed I'm writing in the past tense here, and Meg, I'm sorry, but there is a good reason for that. Something has happened, and I'm not sure if it's Mia who's changed or just me, but somehow I can't get on with her anymore. I gave her very last book a chance against my better judgement after being disappointed with Size Doesn't Matter, the last Heather Wells mystery, and honestly, Meg, I can't say I was any more impressed with this book. Here's the thing- not to put too fine of a point on it, all of your main characters sound really similar, all of them freak out about tiny things that are irrelevant and, sorry, annoying, and they're also a lot dumber than I want women I read about to be. Here's the thing- I get that you want your readers to feel all clever because they've figured out what's going on before the characters, but when things are as obvious as you make them, all you really achieve is making your own characters look really thick. Which you do well, don't get me wrong, but I'm not sure that's really what you want to achieve, is it?
Mia used to be different, although maybe that's just my mind remembering things wrongly. Even so- I feel like the Mia of even the first book was more clued in and just smarter than the Mia of four years later. I mean, seriously, Meg- the press were turning up every time Mia went out with her boyfriend (the icky JP) and it took her two years to figure out that was because he was calling them?! I mean, please- she's a lot smarter than that, and I think more suspicious since, you know, she became a princess and everyone wanted to be her best friend. And is it just me, or was JP made so obviously terrible in reaction to wanting to make Michael completely perfect, and give readers of the series the ending they really really needed? Kudos on that, at least, because, come on, like Mia could have ended up with any other guy!
There were so many more things wrong with this book that I really don't have the heart to go into them all here. One thing I would say, Meg, is that when you create a really great character like Lilly, don't completely sideline her in the last one and make her all sulky and grumpy when, in fact, I think she would have told Mia why she was angry with her, and that whole annoying rigmarole would never have happened. Although, please Meg, far be it for me to tell you how to do your job. And really, I hold no grudges- I remember the joy and good times you brought me in the past, and, you know, thanks for the memories. But Meg, much as I loved you, I think it's time for us to go our separate ways. Please, don't weep- it's me not you. Except, also, it's a little bit you too.
Yours (but not really anymore)