“Forever Princess” by Meg Cabot

Forever Princess

Originally published at Good Reads.

Warning:  this review contains spoilers for the book in question and much of the series.  I put it behind a cut.

I’ve been reading the Princess Diaries series since 2001, when the film was released. The only reason I read them was because I was a royal-watcher, and of course, was thrilled that there was a book series featuring a princess living in modern times. I would have stopped reading the books long ago if it weren’t for my strange desire to see it all the way through, wanting to know how it would end for all the characters.

I’m not going to critique the actual writing, because while I like to write and all, I am hardly a literary expert. Instead, I will simply state all the things I disliked about the final volume.

The previous installment, Princess Mia, saw some major changes for the main character. She broke up with her boyfriend, started eating meat, actually grew breasts due to the resulting weight gain, became estranged from her best friend, and started being friends with the girl who had tormented her from the very beginning of the series. Character growth is important, but as I started Forever Princess, I noticed how much more shallow she was becoming. First off was the comment about how not wearing trendy clothes indicated that a person didn’t care about themselves. On page 39 (hardcover edition), she states the following:

“If you let yourself go – not washing your hair, wearing the same clothes you slept in all day or clothes that don’t fit or are out of style – that says ‘I do not care about myself. And you shouldn’t care about me either.”

I agree with most of that statement except for this crucial part: “or are out of style”. So basically a person could wash their hair regularly, wear cleaned, ironed clothes that fit but just happen to be out of style – like acid washed jeans, for example – you shouldn’t care about someone? That’s an indication that a person doesn’t care about themselves? That is a ridiculous notion and is but one example of how this character has changed for the worse. I usually refer to it as ‘selling out’ because at this point she sounds like a slightly more socially conscious version of Lana, her former nemesis (who hasn’t really changed much, other than being friends with Mia).

Another thing that bugged me was the treatment of her friends, such as bringing an iPod to Boris’s concert. So what if she’s heard his repertoire a zillion times – doing something like that is just flat out rude. A real friend wouldn’t do that – a real friend would endure it just to provide support on such a crucial night.

The whole lying thing is a contrived character flaw that is just really annoying. I guess it’s because everything is so obvious to the reader, and you have to just suffer through the book, waiting if she’ll ever freaking GET IT – such as ‘the other thing’, which is basically the fact that she’s not sexually attracted to JP. After reading excerpts online back in 2008 I was hoping it would have been something more scandalous than that.

Which brings me to the subject of JP. In the previous books – Party Princess, Princess on the Brink and Princess Mia – he seemed like a decent guy who had a crush on Mia, willing to do anything to get with her. Nothing in those books indicated that he was the kind of person to do the things he did in Forever Princess (basing his play on their relationship, and calling the paparazzi on her, among other things), except for the thing at the beginning of Princess Mia. Still, making JP into the villain so she could dump him for Michael was just weak. It would have been more exciting if she simply had to admit that she didn’t like him, break it to him, and then decide to sort out her relationship with Michael. Making JP into the villain only offered an easy way out for her.

Besides, when all that stuff went down regarding JP’s relationship with Lilly, I didn’t feel much sympathy for Mia. Here she is, in a relationship with this guy for nearly two years, and she’s not only completely not attracted to him, she doesn’t even really like him that much. She strings him along for nearly two years because she can’t handle being alone. Then, when Michael finally arrives back on the scene, she ends up making out with him during some carriage ride, out in public, while still dating JP. So she’s hardly as innocent as she – or rather Meg – would like us to believe. Furthermore, she never tells JP that she never really loved him in the first place. If she was so hell-bent on punishing him for what he did to Lilly, she should have told him that she was never in love with him to begin with.

As for her getting back with Michael….this is probably going to get me a lot of flames and such, but I just thought it was pathetic how she immediately jumped into bed with him 1. after he had only been in town for less than a month, and 2. had broken up with her boyfriend of nearly two years just hours before she left the prom for Michael’s loft.

So at the end of this series, the socially-conscious misfit we knew and loved has become a shallow A-crowder who can’t live without a guy in her life. The 14 year old Mia would have seen the 18 year old (is that how old she is?) Mia as yet another Lana wannabe. I am glad that she and Lilly make up at the end (the reason for Lilly being so upset was a complete letdown and after all that build up on the forums and all – it was so obvious that she was upset over Mia getting with JP).

Oh, and as a royal-watcher, the whole Genovian election thing was completely absurd. The monarch of any constitutional monarchy would not run for office…yeah, they’d be ceremonial figureheads, but they wouldn’t need to be elected (obviously) and would only have limited powers. It might be unfair that a monarch can’t be prime minister for example, but they’re supposed to be non-partisan leaders of their countries, representing everyone without the political baggage that comes with an elected head of state. I dunno, maybe that’s too complicated for teenagers or something, although I would think that it isn’t.

I was so very disappointed in this last book because I absolutely loved the first three. I loved the whole premise of an ordinary girl becoming a princess. Well, I am glad that she at least realized her dream – to be a published writer before she turned 18 or 25 (I can’t remember which, but in this book she mentioned 18 and in a previous one she mentioned wanting to write a book before she was 25 or something).