Royal Wedding, by Meg Cabot

Royal WeddingMia Thermopolis has a lot on her plate, between her father’s campaign for re-election, her responsibilities as a princess, the teen community centre she founded, and her relationship with her boyfriend, Michael Moscovitz. Her doctor recommends she journal to deal with the stress, and the upshot is that she returns to compulsively keeping a diary. The result? Royal Wedding, a funny, heartwarming tale about New York’s favourite princess.

I love that this book is so clearly aimed at the original readers of the series, with the characters’ ages reflecting this older audience. If Meg Cabot had written an eleventh installment that picked up shortly after the tenth, I would still have eagerly read about Mia’s adventures at university, but it was nice to read about her at the same age as me, and I appreciated the acknowledgement that the readers have grown up.

With a 7-odd-year time skip, there’s unsurprisingly a fair bit of backstory to fill in, and I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, as I haven’t read the original series in years and have forgotten a lot of what happens. Considering this is Mia’s diary, it would strain the fourth wall considerably to have her explaining things that she already knows, but Cabot handles this well. The book opens with a newspaper article about Mia’s dad, filling in some of the bigger events that have happened, while Mia herself provides further information naturally while discussing other events. For instance, during a conversation with Tina about Boris, she manages to give the reader a refresher on who Boris is and what he’s been doing for the past seven years:

Who could have imagined that Boris Pelkowski, the mouth-breathing violin virtuouso from my Gifted and Talented class way back in ninth grade, would become “Boris P.”, the purple-haired pop singer-songwriter who now plays sold-out concerts all over the world and has girls throwing themselves at him every time he steps from his limo

Plenty more is revealed through their conversation, so that even if you’ve completely forgotten the name Boris Pelkowski by the end it’s clear who he is and why you should care.

Besides striking a balance between giving readers enough information to know what’s going on and info-dumping, my other concern was that Mia would seem incredibly immature, or else so utterly changed I wouldn’t recognise the character I loved. She’s always been a bit of a drama queen, in a way that’s endearing in a 15-year-old but wearying in a 25-year-old. However, I thought Cabot did a wonderful job of maturing Mia while still retaining her characteristic overreactions and anxiety. Instead of worrying Michael will break up with her because he’s realised he can do better, she instead worries he’ll do so because he wants a normal relationship, not one that involves sacrificing his American citizenship and being followed around by members of the Royal Genovian Guard. As usual, she worries about a whole lot of nothing, but she’s grown out of her teenage insecurity into a woman who doesn’t feel inadequate. Considering she spent much of her high school years striving for ‘self-actualization’, it’s satisfying on a narrative level to see her finally having achieved it.

I’ve spoken a lot about how this book deals with its status as an adult continuation of a YA series, but the real question is this: Is it worth reading? To that, my answer is a resounding YES. It’s tremendously funny, at times poignant, and filled with Mia’s characteristic feminism and social justice efforts. You don’t need to be a devoted fan of the series to appreciate this book; though I think it would be difficult to follow if you know nothing of the series, if you’ve got a passing familiarity with Mia’s past but aren’t really keen to dive back into her teen years then I think this book is worth checking out.

Like Mia, Nicola is a citizen of a European constitutional monarchy. Unlike Mia, Nicola is (unfortunately) not in charge.

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