I love Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries series, even when the series bogged down in the middle with Mia acting way too typically teen-ish. But with the final three books, Cabot's in good form and Mia's sent off into her life in the best possible way. I tore through this one fairly quickly, which is a bit of a shame since it's the final one. But Cabot's really done a terrific job of bringing Mia realistically into her final days as a senior (living with one of those people in my house right now has given me terrific insight into what a terror I must've been at the time). I'll share my amazon review with you below, wherein I attempt to analyze more in-depth just what makes this series and Forever Princess in particular such satisfying reads. You can vote at http://www.amazon.com/review/RJFKI63X717RR/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm.
BTW, for whatever bizarre reason, when I copy and paste my reviews, blogger insists on not allowing me to insert paragraphs. Geez.
Princess Mia's back, and it's senior year, which makes it almost two years since the last book left off. What's Mia been doing all this time? Well, dating JP after breaking up with Michael, bringing democracy to Genovia, applying to colleges, NOT talking with former best friend Lilly, hanging out with former enemy Lana, and secretly writing a romance novel for her senior project. Mia's done a lot of thinking and maturing during this time, and she's put aside her journal to focus on her novel, which she hasn't shared with anyone besides her senior counselor. But now the book's done, college looms, she's turning eighteen, and Michael is back from Japan, a successful inventor who wants to be her friend. What's a princess to do? Heck if Mia knows!
I admit that this series bogged down mightily mid-way, but with the last two books and this final novel in the series, Cabot has brought us full circle and beyond. Mia may still be essentially the same, but the maturity fairly oozes from her pores as she faces her former love and her future. While Mia's choices are the same as many graduating seniors, of course she's got to consider what's best for her country as well, and that's just one of the things that makes this a fitting finale.
I never really cared for JP as a love interest for Mia, naturally preferring Michael since he was her first true love. So to see how these two former loves interact after time has separated them is not only intriguing, it's heart-warming. You'll be rooting for them from the moment Mia gets another whiff of Michael's neck! Cabot does her best work in building tension, even if Mia is frustratingly dense at times in her insistence on being with "good guy" JP. It's not a spoiler to say there's a happy ending; we're talking Meg Cabot and the Princess Diaries here. But what's so bad about that? I found myself grinning ridiculously throughout as Mia and Michael do a careful dance around one another until fate finally reunites them.
Cabot does a credible job of showing just how a senior feels in the days coming up to graduation, and the added burdens of Mia's father running for prime minister of Genovia, her eighteenth birthday party, dealing with Grandmere, and a final confrontation with Lilly all bring the turmoil realistically to life. The humor is well done as well, and I loved how Cabot has updated the series by having the friends text each other relentlessly. When I look back at Mia in the first few books compared to how she is now, you can see the transformation not just in looks, but in attitude and confidence. Cabot captures the transition from geeky nerd to confident young woman perfectly, and that alone would be reason to recommend this entire series.
I am pleased with Forever Princess for lots of reasons, many of which I've already mentioned. I love how Mia has learned to handle herself, even if she still makes goofy decisions or embarrasses herself at times. Cabot bravely has Mia make a big decision about sex, which shows just how far Mia's come. But the fact that I feel like I know Mia intimately is the ultimate compliment to Cabot's skill. Forever Princess is a fitting culmination that sends Mia off, not into the sunset, but into the sunrise of her adult life.