Books, Entertainment

BOOK REVIEW: Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

The premise: It’s been 6 years since the last Princess Diaries was published. Forever Princess ended the series on a good note, wrapping up every plot thread and relationship while hinting at future possibilities.

Royal Wedding picks up 8 years after Forever Princess. Mia is living in the Genovian consulate, plagued by paparazzi. Her father is (once again) losing the race for Genovian prime minister, and her longtime boyfriend Michael is planning a supersecret proposal that is obvious to everyone but Mia. Complicating matters is the discovery of Olivia Grace O’Toole, Mia’s long-lost half-sister.

Similar to: Any other Meg Cabot book (not much of a stretch)

My reaction: The book features Meg Cabot’s trademark humor and lighthearted tone. Even at 400+ pages, it’s a quick read. I’ve always found Cabot’s writing to be predictable, so I wasn’t too shocked by the many “plot twists” sprinkled throughout. (The half-sister twist was ruined long before publication; Royal Wedding was announced at the same time as Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, a new series starring Olivia Grace.)

I was surprised by some of the choices Cabot made regarding characters. Lilly and Kenny have broken up, as have Tina and Boris. Mr. Gianini is dead, leading Mia to name her community center after him. This death makes room for a couple that did not work in the previous 10 books: Prince Philippe and Helen Thermopolis.  I understand that people change. However, this book felt like a rewrite of the original characters, at times coming across as more of a fix fic than a genuine part of the series. While it might be more “realistic” to have longtime couples break up, it’s hard to feel satisfied as a dedicated reader when Royal Wedding undoes in a matter of sentences relationships it took the whole series to develop. Royal Wedding functions as an overlong epilogue to an otherwise great series.

I didn’t hate this book. I always have fun reading Princess Diaries books and this one was no exception. I’m having trouble with what feels like a flipping of universal laws: the typical outlandish Princess Diaries elements have been replaced by stark realism (including infidelity, a dead stepfather, an abused half-sister), which contrasts oddly with a chipper optimism that feels out of place in the series’ only adult novel. I’ve always preferred Cabot’s YA stuff. Royal Wedding is more reminiscent of her historical romances and adult series; that is, it’s a little too peppy to feel authentic.

The book lacks an arc and is not something I would recommend to newcomers. However, for longtime fans, Royal Wedding is an entertaining return to much-loved characters. Princess Mia deserves a happy ending and I am more than happy to see her get one.

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