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Only A Review Of the Most Important Books Of All Time

Erin reviews The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot. (It's kind of a big deal around these parts.)

Only A Review Of the Most Important Books Of All Time

BOOK REPORT for The Princess Diaries Series by Meg Cabot

BFF Charm: Obvs!
Swoonworthy Scale: 8
Talky Talk: Journalistic
Bonus Factors: Michael Moscovitz, Being Royal, Crazy Grandmothers, Tina Hakim Baba
Relationship Status: Our Tin Year Anniversary

The Deal:

Mia Thermopolis (Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldi), besides being my very bestest friend, is a teenager living in NYC, with a feminist artist mother and a mostly-absentee, European politician father. Despite being a too-tall, too-skinny, flat-chested freak with triangle-shaped hair who is largely ignored at her posh private school, Mia's life is pretty normal. Her best friend is the brilliant and kind of mean Lilly Moscovitz, and she has a tiny crush on Lilly's brother Michael, who's the second-cutest guy at Albert Einstein High (Josh Richter being number one).

That all changes when Mia's father and grandmother (Grandmere) drop by NYC to announce that, uh, actually? They're royalty. Which makes Mia the crown princess of Genovia, a tiny European principality near Monoco.

So I know what you're thinking. "I saw all this in that Disney movie where Anne Hathaway was gorgeous! Julie Andrews was so nice! And at the end Mia was princess and everyone was happy and danced!"

UH, YEAH, NO. I mean, yes, all of that is true, in the movie(s), but the books are TOTES different (and WAY more awesome, obvs). First of all, at no point does Mia turn into Anne Hathaway. She's lucky to make her hair turn into a non-geometric shape, and even that takes years. And Grandmere? Um, she's NOT Julie Andrews. Unless Julie Andrews has drawn-on eyebrows, chain smokes, drinks like four Sidecars a day and is constantly followed around by a tiny hairless poodle called Rommel. Oh, AND, Grandmere is totally a psycho bitch. I mean, a sort of lovable one, but she's certainly not going to sing a song during princess lessons, unless that song is a mashup called "My Granddaughter Has Terrible Posture; I'm Late For My Botox Appointment."

Over four years, we follow Mia through: insults, embarassments, her mother shacking up with her Algebra teacher, getting the guy, losing the guy, dating The Guy Who Hates It When They Put Corn in the Chili, getting the guy again, and creating democracies and tearing down cliques. And doing it all with copious references to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which is why she is my BEST FRIEND EVS.

BFF Charm: OBVS!

Didn't I just get through saying she was my best friend ever? Seriously, if Mia were a real person, I would immediately throw over my best friend to hang out with Mia. (sorry, bestie!) We have so much in common! We both love Buffy the Vampire Slayer and terrible reality shows on Bravo and WE. We both love sushi and romance novels and fat cats. And we DEFS both love Michael Moscovitz (which, come to think of it, might get in the way of our bosom buddiness).

And, above all that, Mia is kind and tries to do right, and she's sarcastic and impassioned. She's the kind of friend I'd be lucky to have.

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Okay, NORMALLY Meg Cabot always gets an auto-10 on the swoonworthy scale from me, because hello, all of her male romantic interests are amazing. However, she's getting an automatic two-point deduction for making me suffer through THREE BOOKS with that cheesehead, JP Reynolds-Abernathy, IV, who SUCKS OUT LOUD.

But let us move on from that unfortunate blip in Mia's romantic history, and talk about The One, The Only, Mister Michael Moscovitz. Imagine, if you will, a totally hot, tall, surprisingly muscular guy who will: A) bring you bagels, and B) let you smell his neck and C) totally stand up for you and your interests but let you fight your own battles but also not be a pushover, and D) is a complete genius and invents a robotic surgery arm and therefore is totally rich and E) will totally sit and watch the Star Wars trilogy with you while also getting to second base. Second Base and Star Wars! THAT IS THE PERFECT COMBINATION. (Especially when Lando Calrissian is onscreen.)

Guys, I love Michael Moscovitz so much that I even bought Rooney's first album, just because the guy in that band PLAYED Michael Moscovitz in the movies. THAT IS THE DEPTH OF MY DEVOTION.

Talky Talk: Journalistic

It's Meg Cabot, so you know what to expect: breezy, down-to-earth style, laden with pop culture references. But the books are actually just transcriptions of Mia's journal, which includes all of her thoughts for any given day, from eighty exclamation notes in a row, to notes jotted down in Algebra II class, to stuff from her princess lessons with Grandmere, to copies of notes passed to her by Lilly or Tina Hakim-Baba. It's really fun to grow with Mia throughout her high-school years, plus I get to revisit algebra equations! Which is my favorite thing to do!

Bonus Factor: Michael Moscovitz

Yeah! I just did that! I just made Michael Moscovitz a bonus factor! BECAUSE SERIOUSLY HE IS SO SWOONWORTHY! I just want him to bring me bagels and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer with me; is that too much to ask??

Bonus Factor: Being Royal

Okay, being royal probably ISN'T fun, because you have to spend all your time observing protocol and you've always got at least one or two uncles or cousins who are an embarassment to the throne, plus you could find yourself beheaded in a coup d'etat or, worse, end up looking like Prince William. (GINGER PRINCE FOREVS!) But! You'd also get to have all sorts of awesome clothes AND live in a castle AND have your face on money AND hang out with Princess Beatrice, who looks like a fun time, or the adorable Princess Aiko from Japan, who gets bullied at school. (Princess Aiko, I will protect you!)

Bonus Factor: Crazy Grandmothers

Look, it's awesome when someone wins the Kickass Gram Award here at FYA. And goodness knows both of my grandmothers were amazing women who I could only hope to be as graceful and adept as some day. However, they're also Southern, which means that they would Tell You Like It Is, with my paternal grandmother dropping a lot of F-bombs and blowing cigarette smoke in your face, and my maternal grandmother putting her hand over yours, squeezing it gently, and saying, "I'll pray for you, dear." Which basically amounts to the same thing.

Anyway, Grandmere is TOTES a Tell It Like It Is grandmother. She's more comfortable insulting the help and regaling Mia with stories about how she could have been an actress/gone to Sarah Lawrence/married a billionaire than, you know, baking cookies or knitting something or whatever it is grandmothers usually do. In short, Grandmere rules and is almost always proven right.

Bonus Factor: Tina Hakim Baba

Tina Hakim Baba is Mia's second-best friend, and the person who introduces her to romance novels (which then leads Mia to writing her own romance novel, Ransom My Heart, which was actually, like, the first book Meg Cabot ever wrote, and then she released it last year under Princess Mia's name. Which basically makes it like the book version of a Chris Gaines cd, ONLY AWESOME.). Tina's dad is really concerned that his daughter might be kidnapped, so she is forced to endure having a bodyguard follow her around, just like Mia is. Anyway, Tina is awesome, AND she turns Boris into an almost-hottie, and for that she deserves full props.

Casting Call:

This is hard! This book was already made into a movie, and I'm not sure I can get Anne Hathaway out of my head, even IF she doesn't look anything like Mia. But I shall try.

Emma Watson as Mia

Yeah, okay, I know, she's absolutely gorg. But did we really see that coming, all those years ago? No. Emma Watson blossomed into a swan, just like Mia! Plus, Emma Watson is totally overly expressive when she talks and I bet her nostrils flare when she's lying, so she's a good bet.

Nicholas Braun as Michael Moscovitz

Nicholas Braun may not be the second-hottest guy at any given school, but he's really tall, and he looks like his neck might smell good.

Joan Crawford as Grandmere

Only someone this unhinged could play Grandmere! From beyond the grave!

Avaz Latif as Tina Hakim Baba

I've only ever seen Turtles Can Fly, and mostly I was crying through it, and I know that Tina is Saudi Arabian/French and Avaz is Iraqi, but maybe she wants to make people laugh for a change?

Heather Matarazzo as Lily

I actually think Lilly was pretty perfectly cast in the movie!

Relationship Status: Our Tin Year Anniversary

Oh, books. It was ten years ago that we first met, but it feels like yesterday. In that time, I have watched our tiny seed blossom into a fully-grown love plant, to borrow a phrase from the Old Spice guy. I did some research on the information superhighway, and it turns out that the traditional gift for a ten year anniversary is something made of tin. (I thought it was a month-long pass to have an open relationship, so as to keep the marriage exciting, but apparently I'm wrong.) I've looked high and low for something tin to give you, but nothing seemed right! A Tin Man? Well, maybe, but wouldn't the metaphor of a missing heart offend you, the book series that has more heart than just about any I know? Maybe a tin can? That just doesn't seem like enough for the books that have stuck with me, anytime I'm having a crappy day, and allowed me to soothe my anger and frustration in its delightfully-woven stories.

Finally I decided to give you an authentic tin cup, like cowboys use "on the range." (Not that awful Kevin Costner movie that was actually filmed right behind my parents' house.) Not only will you be able to eat your vegetarian - or occassionally meat-filled - chili in this cup, but you can also strike a spoon against it to make a delightful song. Books, I know this gift can in no way repay you for all you've given me, but I hope you will accept it in the spirit in which it is intended. Now, let's make out!

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.
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