Princess Mia by Meg Cabot: B

From the back cover:
It’s so typical: Mia can’t even attend a performance of Beauty and the Beast with her best friend’s boyfriend without it ending up in the New York Post. And that’s the last thing she needs after her dramatic breakup with Michael.

But that’s the life of a princess. And to make matters worse, Mia’s been asked to deliver a speech for the Domina Rei women’s society—and she has absolutely no idea what to say! Still, being down is no reason for her parents to force her to see a therapist. And just when things couldn’t get any worse, Mia discovers the long-hidden diary of a teen princess and stumbles upon revelations that will make everything else seem like a walk in the park.

My first inclination is to complain that “nothing much really happens in this book,” but that’s really not true. A good deal happens, but it’s just mostly inner stuff. Mia is still reeling from her breakup with Michael, and stupidly agrees with his suggestion to be just friends, rather than voicing any objections to this plan. She spends a week in bed, and eventually begins parent-mandated therapy sessions that ultimately help her realize that she’s waiting for other people to solve her problems for her. This leads to some good things and some bad things.

I’ve long wondered why on earth Mia likes Lily, when Lily often engages in really crappy behavior. In Princess Mia, Lily is giving Mia the silent treatment for various angsty reasons, and I was happy that this prompts Mia to wonder whether she even wants Lily’s friendship back. Mia’s not portrayed as entirely in the right, though, as Lily’s complaints about Mia aren’t invalid. Mia may not have intended to do various things that hurt Lily, but that doesn’t stop the fact that they happened anyway because of her wishy-washyness. I like that their relationship is not mended by the end of the book, and hope that, in the next and final installment, Mia will realize how she is actually at fault in some measure.

I also liked that, when Mia receives a love confession from J.P., she responds by saying that she needs to take some time to figure out who she is without Michael before she starts going out with someone else. Unfortunately, this doesn’t last long, and by the end of the book, maybe a day or two after her stated need for time, she is seeing him as acceptable “moving on” material and snogging him in a freak September snow flurry. It’s not that I think teen romance needs to last FOREVER AND EVER OMG, but J.P. is just so boring. I can’t imagine that anyone reading this series really wants her to end up with him and not Michael.

While seeing growth from Mia is nice, she’s also incredibly annoying sometimes, like when a week of missing school results in heaps of make-up work and she whines a lot about how unfair it is. She also continues to be oblivious to obvious things, like J.P.’s feelings and the fact that Boris has been in communication with Michael. I guess I just didn’t find her very likable this volume, even though she definitely made progress.

Cabot’s writing style also continues to be annoying. Here’s an example:
1. Mia goes on a shopping trip with two popular girls from her school, Lana and Trisha.
2. Then she goes to hang out with Tina fewer than ten pages later.
3. Mia does not tell Tina about the outing “You know, with Lana and Trisha.”

Um, yes, I do happen to recall that! It was fewer than ten pages ago! I am not a moron. I seriously think Cabot has a word count that she’s contractually obligated to meet, so she just sticks those kinds of needless reiterations in as padding.

Princess Mia is not bad, and I appreciated the emphasis on inner growth. The challenge ahead for Forever Princess is an interesting one—it should be atypical and feature Mia realizing that she is responsible for allowing certain things to happen but be typical and satisfying by having her back with Michael at the end (or, at least, not dating the dull J.P.). At least, that’s what I want to see.

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