Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Review: Princess Academy
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Reasons for reading: Have heard great things about Hale's YA books; Young Adult Challenge
Book description: "Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates."
My thoughts: I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would at first. It's actually a great fairy tale. At first I thought it was going to get too fantasy-ish for me, when Miri was trying to learn the mysterious "quarry-speech" but it turned out to be just magical enough without going overboard. Miri is just the kind of girl you want in a story like this - spunky, clever and braver than she realizes. And it's not just a simple. Among other things, it explores family relationships, social class, secrets, the value of education and, in particular, the longing to belong.
The mountain setting, the goats, the feisty girl, and the boy named Peder (close enough!) reminded me of Heidi. It had that feel, of a story from another time. And it wasn't as "princessy" as I'd thought - I think even boys would like it (if they could get past the title and the girl on the cover) - with the quarrying, the bandits, and the rats, there's something for everyone!