Just finished reading Princess Academy. (And yes, I do realize when I blogged this morning I wasn’t even halfway through yet. What can I say? I didn’t have any hot dates tonight. ;-))
I thought it was charming and sweet, one of those quiet kinds of books that has a nice rhythm to its story and its language. I did get the feeling it was aimed at a rather younger audience than most YA fiction, and there were parts of the storyline that felt a little off to me, especially the characterization of the bandits towards the end. The concept of that whole section was really cool, and I loved the hostages-in-the-snow scene, but the bandits themselves seemed rather flat to me.
Loved the world Shannon Hale created: Mount Eskel and the mining (and trading) of linder stone; the whole concept of quarry-speech, a sort of telepathy using shared memories; and the depiction of life on the side of a mountain, complete with sharing houses with goats!
Miri, the main character, was quite spunky and adorable, though her conflicting desires–did she want to stay on the mountain or be a princess in the lowlands?–did get a trifle annoying sometimes.
I do think the book could have been longer, not that it ended too soon (though I’m always game for long endings), just that it felt a little rushed, a little condensed in parts that could have used more development.
But I did like it. Different enough from other books of the same ilk to have its own unique flavor, yet managing somehow to still feel comfortable (if that makes any sense at all). Towards the end it reminded me of Crown Duel, a book I absolutely adore and have read a billion times, so that is a definite compliment. Princess Academy made me smile, and I must admit I benefited from a few warm fuzzies in the last few pages.
A solid 4 (out of 5) stars.