ARC Review: The Quarantine Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

  • Title: The Quarantine Princess Diaries
  • Author: Meg Cabot
  • Publisher: Avon Books
  • Release Date: 3/28/23
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Rating: ★★★
  • Publisher’s Summary: Mia Thermopolis knows just what to do in a crisis: Rule. During the Covid-19 pandemic, a section of the diary of Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia fell into the hands of Meg Cabot, the Princess’s royal biographer. As reported in media outlets such as Entertainment Weekly, The Mary Sue, Refinery 29, Bustle, and more, from March until June of 2020, sixteen entries of the princess’s diary were leaked onto Ms. Cabot’s blog, to the delight of over a million fans. In these entries, titled The Coronavirus Princess Diaries, the princess recorded her most heartfelt emotions while dealing with her husband’s quarantine after exposure to the virus; her personal (and political) battles while imposing health restrictions on her small European nation; life during lockdown (even in as idyllic a location as a palace on the Riviera); and of course, dealing with her demanding royal family, especially her grandmother. Since then, readers have been clamoring for more chapters of Mia’s coronavirus diary . . . and here they are at last: The Quarantine Princess Diaries include not only the previously released entries (now edited and updated with new content), but two hundred more pages of entirely original, never-before-seen entries, including the princess’s worries over a possible royal affair; a showdown between Mia and Grandmère over the latter’s intended nuptials; the eventual development and distribution of a groundbreaking intranasal vaccine for every citizen in Genovia; and, as always, a royally happy ending. After all we’ve been through, what could be more comforting for any lover of royal romance than snuggling up with a brand new installment of the diary of Mia Thermopolis, the princess who started it all.

I absolutely loved the Princess Diaries series and have been their avid reader since 2000 when they first were published. I, of course, was thrilled when the series was continued with an adult Mia with Royal Wedding in 2015. I eagerly started reading A Quarantine Princess Diaries.

I realized as started reading that I’d blocked out what mid-March 2020 was like, but it all came rushing back as I started reading. Cabot captures the anxiety and uncertainty of that moment perfectly. I loved that at first Mia started counting the days of quarantine, but then she gave up. That definitely felt real to my experience of 2020.

There are a few moments that feel out of character for Mia. In the earlier books in the series, Mia is set up as a very passionate animal lover. In this installment, Mia mentions trying to get all of the iguanas removed from Genovia. She also is no longer a vegetarian. Of course, people change as they get older, but this seemed like a pretty radical attitude shift for her.

Mia is put in an incredibly difficult position in this story. She is responsible for leading a country through a global pandemic, even facing pressure for her close family to reopen businesses before it is safe to do so. I know we were all feeling stressed and frustrated in that moment in time, but Mia does come off as very whiny throughout this story. She moans about why people don’t acknowledge the work she’s doing from keeping COVID-19 from spreading and complains that she’s gained weight from eating too many cookies and how her gray hairs are showing. Of course, I can empathize with her, but I wanted more from Mia.

In this book, Michael is the scientist who creates a intranasal vaccine against COVID-19. I know we’re supposed to suspend disbelief, but this feels unlikely to me. It also felt unlikely that Michael would happen to be working with his high school girlfriend on the project. Also, I certainly wish that the vaccine I got was instranasal. I know that vaccines are never fun, but I was disappointed that Mia complained about getting the vaccine.

I enjoyed the little real life moments peppered throughout the book. It makes sense that Mia would know Meghan Markle and Prince Harry and that a young royal like Mia would have been invested in their announcement that they were stepping away from public royal duties. It made me smile to read about Mia supporting them. I also loved the reference to Chris Pine being in a movie about Mia’s life (obviously Princess Diaries 2).

Mia will always hold a special place in my heart, but The Quarantine Princess Diaries does not reflect her at her best. Of course, none of us were at our best in March 2020. I look forward to seeing what happens to Mia and Michael next.

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