Monday, March 18, 2013

Princess Academy

Princess Academy (Princess Academy, 1) by Shannon Hale, 2007. 336 pages. Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's. Source: Bought.
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.
First Sentence:
Miri woke to the sleepy bleating of a goat.
Shannon Hale's Princess Academy started out as a random read selected from my shelf to pass the time. While I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did, I knew that it was going to be an interesting read from the premise.

Princess Academy was my first Shannon Hale book. In all honestly, I really was not expecting this to be one that I would enjoy because the synopsis made it seem like a light read. I am very happy to tell you that Princess Academy was enjoyable because the characters, especially Miri, become strong characters that would make great role models for young readers. It is not often that I would site literary characters as worthy of being role models, but if you read this one you'll see what I mean about Miri and the other girls that attended the academy.

One of things that was the most striking for me as a reader in the setting of Princess Academy would have to be the quarry speech. I really loved the way it played into the whole story and that the girls used it to communicate their plans for slipping away. What really made this aspect of the story stick with me was that it was something that only those of mountain could hear/do and that it was literally part of the and their heritage.

What I really enjoyed the most about Princess Academy would have to be that the book sets a pretty good message for readers. I liked that as the book progressed the characters, Miri included, learned to value themselves and to deal with the tough situation being taken from their homes and family in order to be trained to be trained to be both a bride and princess. Good golly, no wonder things things get off to a rocky start because could you imagine being in their shoes. I'll say this once, Ms Hale did such a great job of creating a interesting cast of characters and the way Miri and company matured throughout the book was so well written that it has made me ramble on just tiny bit.

If I had to peg one bad thing about this book it is that I was not too fond of the whole Princess Academy aspect of the book. I know, that is like the big thing in the plot, but the reasons I found it unfavorable is because I disliked that it was used to find the prince his bride. While it was well written and added tremendously to the story by giving it a depth that would have been missing without it, I just wasn't all that sold on the format of treating it like a contest.

Final Verdict: A Princess Academy a delightful story about friendship and the strength that it brings.

Princess Academy earns 4 out of 5 pineapples.

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