Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Book Review: Princess Academy Series

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Recommended for: Ages 10 to Adult

Rating: PG

Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince will choose his bride from among the village girls.

The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess. Soon Miri finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires. Winning the contest could give her everything she ever wanted-but it would mean leaving her home and family behind.

It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but it was very, very good. I'd been reading it on my Saturday lunch break for several weeks, but I had to bring it home  to finish it. So good. So much about what education can really do, deep relationships, real characters, and the quarry speak is pretty cool. 

Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city is a thrill to Miri. She and her princess academy friends have come to Asland to help the future princess Britta prepare for her wedding. There, Miri also has a chance to attend school – at the prestigious Queen's Castle.

But as Miri befriends sophisticated and exciting students, she also learns that they have some frightening plans for a revolution. Torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends' ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city, Miri looks to find her own way in this new place.

 Oh my goodness, words cannot express how much I loved this book. The Princess Academy books are never what I expect, they are so much better. I intended to leave this as a lunch break book, but I just had to bring it home and finish it. This book. It's just so deep. I love deep. All the Ethics questions Miri ponders, the politics, the French Revolution-type conflict, the uncertainty of her relationship with Peder...there's just so much I love, that I can relate to, that made me think. So, so good. 

 After a year at the king's palace, Miri has learned all about being a proper princess. But the tables turn when the student must become the teacher!

Instead of returning to her beloved Mount Eskel, Miri is ordered to journey to a distant swamp and start a princess academy for three sisters, cousins of the royal family. Unfortunately, Astrid, Felissa, and Sus are more interested in hunting and fishing than becoming princesses.

As Miri spends more time with the sisters, she realizes the king and queen's interest in them hides a long-buried secret. She must rely on her own strength and intelligence to unravel the mystery, protect the girls, complete her assignment, and finally make her way home.

 The second book is still my favorite, but I loved this one nevertheless. In a way, it brings the series full circle as Miri the Princess Academy student becomes the teacher of a mini Princess Academy. But it is so much more than that. Political unrest is not yet over, and relations between Danland and Stora are, well, not pretty. I do caution you not to peek at the end. I did before I even read Palace of Stone--solely to see if Miri and Peder got together--and accidentally got a spoiler that ruined a lot of the suspense. But it still managed to surprise me a bit even so. Miri and Peder are still fantastic, the sisters are great, things are concluded well, and I love it to pieces. I must have my own copy.

This series is highly recommended. Clean and kid appropriate, yet so deep. Wonderful stories.

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