Title: Princess Academy
Author: Shannon Hale
Genre: Fairy Tale
High on the slopes of rocky Mount Eskel, Miri’s village pounds a living from the mountain’s stone. But then word comes that the next princess will be chosen from her village. All eligible girls are forced to attend a makeshift academy to prepare for royal life. There, Miri confronts not only a cruel teacher and bitter competition among the girls, but her own conflicting desires to be chosen. But when danger comes to the academy, it is up to Miri to save her classmates and the future of their village.
Princess Academy is one of those books that I had planned on reading, but never really got around to it. But after I finished Princess Ben, I was looking for something else with a fairy-tale feel, and I finally decided to pick this one up.
I really enjoyed Miri. Even though she wasn’t physically strong, she was strong mentally – a quick learner and quick to figure out how things work, even when there’s no one to teach her. And while she wasn’t exactly brave or bold, I liked her in a sweet-little-sister kind of way.
Olana, the instructor, was such a jerk at the beginning. She was ridiculously unfair and way, way too hard on the girls. I totally hated her. And then…no spoilers, but I didn’t hate her quite so much anymore.
There’s so many other characters I could mention – Britta, Miri’s new friend, Katar, Miri’s main rival among the girls, little Gerti who is occasionally important…. Every girl at the academy had an important part to play somewhere, and each had her own distinct personality, which just added to the awesomeness of the story. I feel like if I write a paragraph about any of the other girls, I’d be shorting the ones I didn’t mention.
The whole watching-girls-learn-about-being-royalty thing had the potential to be really boring, but between butting heads with Olana and competing among themselves, it wasn’t. And even though I can’t say I didn’t see what was coming as far as the “danger to the academy” part and Miri’s romantic interests, I still enjoyed the story. And who the prince chose was something I did not guess.
This book was exactly what I was looking for – lighthearted and fun, not really a fairy tale or involving real princesses but with a very fairy-tale feel. And even though Princess Academy wrapped up in such a way that I’m not sure what the sequel, Palace of Stone, will be about, I might just read it anyway. Because I definitely wouldn’t object to spending another book with these characters.