Princess Academy - Shannon Hale

Miri was an absolutely delightful protagonist to spend time with. She is funny, kind, and, above all, does not take herself too seriously. I did not miss the teen angst at all! I always appreciate it when an author trusts her readers to handle a protagonist who isn't smugly superior to all other females in the book. I also appreciate a book which shows that females can actually work together and support one another. I really enjoyed the unique mountain setting and the inventive idea of 'quarry-speak'. But most of all all I loved the emphasis on friendship, cooperation, family, loyalty, resourcefulness, education, etc. In general reading this with my daughter was an enjoyable way to spend a couple of weeks. And, in fact, at our book club meeting my daughter gave this five stars. I gave it 3.5, but I suppose I'll be fair and split the difference and give it 4.

In truth, the adult reader in me felt a bit grumbly about some of the plot contrivances. I also vacillated in my reaction to the writing style. Hale absolutely *adores* metaphors and it is super distracting! Hale is also extremely wordy - to the point of repetitiveness in my opinion. I felt the book could have been half as long and been just as effective. Ultimately, this book was not unpleasant to read aloud and is actually very well suited for such an endeavor. My husband listened in more times that I think he'd like to admit and would ask us about how it was going when he had missed a chapter! In the end, all of the girls (ages 8 to 12) at our book club were very enthusiastic about this book and that is what really tipped the scales for me.