Kat's Reviews > Princess Academy

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
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's review
Oct 26, 11

bookshelves: borrowed-from-library, young-adult, fantasy, read-in-2011
Read from October 15 to 26, 2011, read count: 1

I enjoyed Shannon Hale's first novel Goose Girl and have read a lot of good reviews for Princess Academy. I found a lot of similarities in the two books — one being the power to use telepathy to speak through non-humans and inanimate things, and another being a strong female protagonist who overcomes dire situations to better her life and the lives of those around her.

Miri is a fourteen-year-old girl from Mount Eskel living with her eighteen-year-old sister Marda and their pa, never knowing her mother who died a week after giving birth to Miri. When the chief delegate of Danland arrives to Mount Eskel to announce that the priests have chosen Mount Eskel as the home of the crown prince's future bride, an academy is set up to train the eligible girls of the mountain to be proper princesses. Since Miri is small and is never allowed to help extract linder (a type of rare stone the kingom uses in its palaces) in the quarry, she feels this academy is her chance to prove herself worthy of something — anything — other than staying at home and doing chores.

At first the girls at the academy look down on Miri, partly because she's so small and seems useless, but also because she starts to excel in her studies, putting many of the academy girls to shame. But soon, after she reads a book on commerce and learns how to help Mount Eskel earn more for its linder, the girls and their families appreciate Miri.

What I like about Miri is that, while she's like any other girl who secretly pines for a boy to love her back, she focuses more on her responsibility to her people and how she can help improve their lives. Yes, she would love for her childhood crush Peder to declare he loves her just as she loves him, but it's not the only thing that drives her. I'm not a fan of heroines whose only motivation is to win their true love (I'm lookin' at you, Twilight). Miri is a strong female character because she studies hard to better herself and uses her newfound knowledge to educate her fellow villagers.

The worlds Shannon Hale creates in her young-adult novels are so vivid. She uses such detailed descriptions when it comes to the land, the people, and their everyday activities. I know Hale has written various types of novels, but I think she excels at fantasy. Whenever I see a Newberry sticker on the cover a book, it makes me curious to read it and wonder why it earned that honor. After reading Princess Academy, with its intriguing plot and strong characters, I now see why so many people have praised the novel.

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