By Shannon Hale
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens Books
Source: Public Library
Challenges: Library Challenge
"Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess. Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates. - Goodreads
True, this book is probably meant for younger adolescents but I thoroughly enjoyed it! It a unique tale that leaves you feeling good and has a certain sweet quality to it.
I loved Miri. If I were to have a best friend, she would be it. She's always trying to make people laugh, her laugh is contagious, she is kind and positive. She has a head on her shoulders that makes her able to deal with whatever comes her way, although she is small for her age she is very witty! Though she appears giddy and happy on the outside she feels a bit insecure on the inside. Miri feels useless and doesn't know what she is to do with her life. That's why the Academy is a great aspect of the story. Another character that I really liked was Peder, Miri's best friend in the village. He is so sweet and is charming. There is a bit of a love interest between them but it is not the focus of the story. I liked that actually, it was a very nice way of weaving it in. Along with Miri are her friends, like Britta, Esa, and Frid. I loved Britta, she has the qualities of a good friend too! I also really enjoyed the role of Miri's father as well. All characters were well developed.
The plot was different. At times it was predictable but then at other times I did not see certain details or events coming. The main focus of the story is on education and how much of an impact it can have. Miri discovers this as she learns in the academy and is able to use what she learned to better the villiagers life. I loved the setting, the mountains would be a cool place to live and I really liked the 'quarry speech' aspect to it. I thought that was an original idea and it added a new element to the story. Granted at times the writing was simple or it got a little slow (when I say a little, I mean tiny-ish) because I read this in two sittings only hours apart. I wanted to know what would happen to Miri and the villiage. The ending was well written and wrapped the story up in a good way.
I recommend this book to those who like a fairy-tale kind of book and a nice easy read that won't leave you feeling loaded down. Shannon Hale certainly knows how to keep a reader hooked and weave a great tale!
Miri stepped in to try and help and soon found herself sprawled beside him, laughing. "We're cooked in a goat stew. There's no saving us now."
When the finally untangled and standing upright, Miri had an impusle to lean forward and kiss his cheek. The urge shocked her, and she stood there, dumb and embarrassed.
"That was a mess," he said.
"Yes." Miri looked down, brushing the dirt and gravel from her clothes. She decided she had better tease him quickly in case he had read her thoughts. "If there's one thing you're good at, Peder Doterson, it's making a mess."
"That's what my ma always says, and everyone knows she's never wrong."
Suddenly Peder was beside her. "Are you going?" he asked.
"Yes, I guess. I don't know." She shook her head trying to rattle her thoughts straight. "Are you? I mean, of course you're not - you're a boy. I meant to ask, do you wish I weren't? Never mind."
His mouth twisted in a mischievous smile. "You want me to say that I'll miss you."
"I'll miss you. Who else will make a mess of everything?"