December 31, 2006

Guilty Pleasure of the Week: The Princess Diaries

Posted in Books, Movies at 8:36 pm by Calico Jack

Of course, I’m referring to the book series, not the dreadful pair of films which unleashed their poison a few years ago on an unsuspecting populace. Normally I wouldn’t ever pick up a book like this, let alone read it…but I work in the children’s department of a library, and it happened to be lying within easy reach one evening when I was rather bored. Much to my surprise and initial consternation, the first novel was pretty engrossing. Well-written? Nope. Full of profound insights? Alas, none to be found here. Worthy of any best-of list? Probably not. But The Princess Diaries had a solid hour’s worth of enjoyment between its covers, largely due to author Meg Cabot’s perpetual inclusion of pop-culture references and droll passages:

Only in a culture as screwed up as ours, where girls like Christina Aguilera are held up as models of beauty when clearly they are in fact suffering from some sort of malnutrition (scurvy?), would Lilly ever be considered fat. Because Lilly isn’t fat. She is just round, like a puppy.

Now, I don’t know any fourteen-year-old girls who talk that way. I will guess that those same girls also don’t write that way, although I don’t have access to their journals to make a more informed statement. Still, the first three entries in the series (The Princess Diaries, Princess in the Spotlight, Princess in Love) have entertained me for at least three hours, which are three hours that I didn’t spend wasting my life watching Deal or No Deal with my parents. I would throw myself off a cliff if these books ever won a Newbery award, but as a mindless diversion they serve quite admirably.

One note for parents: these books aren’t really appropriate for younger children. The movies weren’t appropriate for anybody, but the novels have some content in them from which the more innocent kiddies should probably stay away.

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