Saturday, February 13, 2016

Pretty Little Liars + Princess Diaries - Reviews

I listen to a Podcast called Super Serials and every week they have a discussion about a Middle Grade or Young Adult book.  Generally they're books like Babysitter's Club, Sweet Valley Twins, or Animorphs but lately they've been mixing in a few more Young Adult books.  Back in December they did Pretty Little Liars and The Princess Diaries which are two books I've been thinking about reading.  I thought it'd be fun to give them a read and see what I thought.

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shephard -
My library had an audio copy and I ended up going that way.  The book is read by Cassandra Morris who does a fantastic job of making the teenage girls sound like teenage girls without going over to caricature.  The basic premise of the story is that you have a group of 5 popular 7th grade girls and 1 goes missing.  Three years later the 4 remaining girls start getting texts or emails signed with the initial "A" (the missing girl's name was Allison) and whoever is sending them knows all their secrets.  From the beginning I kind of felt like the book was written to be a TV show.  I can't exactly say why but something about the way the scenes are set and the dialogue feels like a TV show.  I really loved the premise and the way it unraveled and I wanted to know what all was going to happen.  BUT - I'm definitely way older than the target market for this book and it was very apparent to me.  I felt like the middle of the book took way to long and there was too much time of the girls kind of spinning their wheels and worrying about life decisions, what was going on, what people were going to think, etc and I just wanted stuff to happen!  Overall, I enjoyed this though it was never something I was super excited to start back up and get back into the story.  I'm not sure if I'll continue with the series but I do want to find out what happens and how everything wraps up so I might.  This doesn't end of a cliffhanger necessarily but there are a lot of questions at the end.  I watched the first couple of episodes of the show to see how it differed and it was pretty similar.  The main difference is in the book 3 years have passed since Allison disappeared and in the show only 1 year had passed.
My Rating: Just Okay though I am glad I listened.

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot -
Mia Thermopolis is an awkward fourteen year old high school freshman who doesn't feel like she fits in anywhere.  It doesn't help when her mother starts dating Mia's algebra teach (whose class she is failing) or when her father comes to town to hell her that not only is he a prince but she is the heir to the throne of the principality Genovia.  Lots of angst and fretting follows this announcement and the middle got really slow and Mia fretted and worried and got horribly embarrassed or incredibly self-righteous.  Mia's friend Lily drove me CRAZY!  Up until the end I really had no idea why Mia was friends with her other than the fact that she didn't have anyone else.  Lily is really awful to Mia but doesn't spend much time looking at her own actions.  I did really enjoy the last quarter of the book when Mia really started figuring things out and stopped wringing her hands and the last 20 pages or so had me smiling.  Grand-mere is definitely much more formidable than the Julie Andrews version but by the end I kind of liked her.  This wasn't my favorite read but it was entertaining and I loved the authenticity Cabot brings to the character.  They sound and act like teenagers which at times is great and at other times not so much.
My Rating: Good though that's mostly on the strength of the 2nd half of the book

While both books involve high school students the characters couldn't be more different.  The PLL girls are definitely on the popular side whereas Mia is definitely on the outside.  There's sex, lots of alcohol and a dash of drugs in Pretty Little Liars where Mia hasn't been kissed and only drinks wine at dinner in France and isn't a big fan of it.  I'm not a big YA reader so I don't have much to compare these too but I found the stories both really interesting.  While I won't be dashing out to pick up the next book for both series right away I do plan on continuing with them both.  I want to find out what happens!


  1. I've seen a few episodes of Pretty Little Liars and I guess I knew it was based on a book but didn't know anything about it. I'm curious about the mystery but there are several seasons I think and that's a lot of catch up, so I probably won't follow it but it was okay. The intrigue seems fun! :)

  2. I think that my daughter read both of these books. Pretty Little Liars sounds like a book that would only succeed in making me feel old. I bet that the audio was a good choice for that one. I so loved the movie of The Princess Diaries that I would be afraid that the book would pale in comparison. Great reviews!

  3. My eldest grandkid who is in 7th grade, loves to watch the TV show of Pretty Little Liars. My daughter watched it with her to make sure it isn't too old for her, but it isn't really the "mom's" cup of tea. She said it's just okay but my granddaughter loves it!

  4. My daughter watches the Pretty Little Liars series on TV, but from what I've seen, it's not for me. All that teenage angst in my house is enough, I don't need it anywhere else. I did recently read the geared more for adults Princess Diary book called Royal Wedding and I really liked it!

  5. I've read the first few Princess Diaries books and then quit reading them - about the time the movie came out. I do like the movie better because I love Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway. I have meant to read Royal Wedding since that seems to be Meg Cabot's hat tip to her fans that have grown up and wondered about how the Mia story ended.

    I have watched the first episode or two of Pretty Little Liars, but I've not read the book. I know this is a pretty long book series and pretty long TV series. I suspect I would like the TV show better. And I also suspect that they 'aged' the girls a bit to even things out.

    I am listening to the first book in another Meg Cabot YA series about a teenage girl who is a 'mediator' or 'ghost facilitator'. I read this series or maybe the first 4 books or so a long time ago and liked the humor. Anyway, Cabot just came out Remembrance, which tells what happens when Suze has graduated college and grown up. Again, I think her former teenage fans will be happy to see how the story ends. Me too. I'm going to listen to all the books again and then read Remembrance.

  6. Hey, YA books! The next YA books you'll be posting reviews for is Cinder, right? :D
    I haven't read either of these. And pretty much feel like I missed the boat and I won't enjoy them. Especially PLL. I've heard great things about the show though. Not sure if I'll ever get to it as I don't watch much TV.
    I, of course, have seen The Princess Diaries movie. Which I've heard is massively different from the book. *shrugs*
    I'm glad you branched out and did have some enjoyable reads.

  7. Not read PLL, but I love the TV show based on the books. :) I also have not read Princess Diaries, though seen the movie. :) Two books that I have but not yet read. But some day I will.

  8. I've seen the TV show of Pretty Little Liars-at least the first season. I am not sure I would want to read the book. I haven't read the other book either, although I might be tempted someday. I have seen the movie and enjoyed it.