real-talk YA book reviews

Monthly Archives: May 2014

     Last Tuesday, I had an appointment to refresh my haircut, which is based on the style of the character Ramona Flowers from one of my favorite movies, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

(I haven't yet gone blue. Also no bangs.)

(I haven’t yet gone blue. Also no bangs.)

     In honor of this occasion, I decided to check the original comic book/graphic novel upon which the film was based out from the library. I was excited to try the format because I was largely unfamiliar with it.

     What I’ve been struck with most so far is how word-for-word similar it is to the movie. As a bibliophile accustomed to raging about the liberties taken by film adaptions, I was expecting to find a completely different story. So far, though, that hasn’t been the case. I’ll probably keep reading it, but it will be mainly for the novelty of it, because I’m not getting much more than I already got in terms of plot.

     Considering my obsession with Homestuck, a comic that’s published exclusively online, graphic storytelling seems like something I should probably explore. I also recently attended a session of my teen writing group with a visiting cartoonist and animator, who further intrigued me with the cartoon/graphic novel process.

    However, for now, I’m more interested in the possibility of creating a comic than reading more of them. It seems like a good way to combine two of my primary artistic interests right now, writing and drawing. However, when it comes to my life as a consumer, a part of me prefers to keep my words and pictures separate, in books and movies/TV, respectively. But that’s subject to change.

     Any thoughts on the pros and cons of graphic-assisted storytelling? I’d love to hear them.




                The intrepid IBTJ research team received jaw-dropping, hold-the-phone, shut-the-front-door intel yesterday. Meg Cabot has two new Princess Diaries books in the works!!

                Mia, now an adult and preparing to take the throne of Genovia, hits a new obstacle when she discovers an illegitimate (not that any child in Mia’s family has been “legitimate”) younger half-sister, whose existence somehow enables an attempt to wrest the throne from Mia’s father. Meg is writing a middle-grade book about the sister and an adult novel about Mia.

                Oh, and by the way? Mia is planning her wedding. The first article I read didn’t name the groom, so I spent ten minutes panicking before determining from Meg’s website that, yes, she is marrying Michael Moscowitz!


                I can’t describe how thrilled I am at the prospect of reading about Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo again. So I thought this would be a good time to look back on the original Princess Diaries series, and more importantly, urge every YA reader to READ IT!

                Oh how I love the Princess Diaries. They are the hot cocoa with marshmallows to end all. Mia is truly the best. She is funny, incredibly relatable (but not a blank slate by any means), big-hearted but not a saint, awkward and flawed but not a caricature. And aside from being very effectively set in a hip urban New York lifestyle—Mia lives in a loft apartment with her painter mom in a whirlwind of authentic Asian food deliveries–, it depicts high school life more realistically than pretty much any other book I’ve read. First of all, Mia and her friends ACTUALLY GO TO CLASS. And receive homework, like all the time, not just when it’s a convenient plot point.

                There’s a mean girl who early on terrorizes Mia’s life, but who, in later books, turns out to actually have a soul (one of the things I’m most cranky at the movie adaptions for erasing). There is no magic makeover that turns Mia into Anne Hathaway; she’s described as a normal-looking girl, but there are still people in her life who think she’s beautiful. Her friends and classmates are fantastic. Her best friend Lilly is so well drawn, and their dynamic is so multi-faceted and rich. And both the everyday and the grand-heist-level shenanigans are just so hilarious. There are ten books in the PD series, which in a lot of cases could turn into beating a dead horse beyond recognition; such is not the case here. The stories truly never got tired or repetitive.

                And yes, as I spoiled above, Mia and Lilly’s older brother Michael are soul mates; but the ten-book path towards their love is anything but a romanticized, silky-smooth Hollywood construction. There are bumps, mountains, and detours along the way. There are *gasp* other people for both of them. There are times when it seems they’re moving on and away from each other. And there are times and times again that their bond is tested and proven true.

                If I haven’t convinced any non-believers out there, let me try this tactic: READ IT. READ IT. READ IT! The Princess Diaries are a worthy inspiration to girls everywhere and a likely treat for older audiences too. I’m so glad they’ve been a part of my life, and I cannot wait for Mia to become a part of it all over again.