Ok, I’ll be honest: I haven’t read every single Meg Cabot book on the market. I mean, thre are a lot. And I have a lot of other stuff to read too. Plus two jobs. Plus school. Plus three hours of commuting every day, and I can really only handle English accents reading audiobooks. But I have read most of her stuff. And for a while I thought I disliked her work. Then I thought “hey this is almost as funny as Sophie Kinsella.” And now that I’m just finishing up All American Girl, I’m not sure how I feel. So, I’m making a timeline. Maybe a pattern will emerge?
The Princess Diaries (first volume publish 2000)
I liked this series. Really, I did. At first. I’ve only read the first six, but I enjoyed them up until that last one. Unfortunately, by the time I reached Princess in Training, I was kind of tired of Mia. Se’s a bit whiny, don’t you think? And she has a slight (?) tendancy to overreact, get totally worked up, and freak herself out over NOTHING. And yes, that’s a trait familiar to many teenage girls (including myself, back in the day), but it does get kind of old. After a while, you kind of want to shake her and say “Just because Michael’s hot, and the first guy to be interested in you, doesn’t mean you’re destined to spend eternity together, stop calling him your one true love!” But I haven’t read the break-up book yet, so maybe she gets past that phase.
All American Girl (2002)
Remember what I said about Mia? You should, it’s like, four lines above this. Ditto Samantha. Her obsessive belief that Jack is her soulmate and that she couldn’t possibly have the slightest feelings for David, because that would be unfaithful is supremely annoying. And yes, she gets over it, and realizes that Jack’s maybe not as cool as she thouhgt, but still, such mooning can get a little old. Overall, not a favorite of mine.
Teen Idol (2004)
My favorite so far. In fact, my favorite overall. This book was interesting. The characters were not quite so single-minded as Samantha and Mia. Jen is actually an interesting character, she hardly whines at all, and I think, if I were to meet her, we would probably get along (but then, that was the point of Jen, right?). So, yeah, the premise is a bit far fetched, but Meg pulled off pretty nicely, in my opinion. Though the marshmallow making out thing was revolting. Plus I loved that it took place in Indiana. Yay, memories of my own hoosier high school. Overall, a great addition to YA chick-lit.
How to Be Popular (2006)
The hits keep on coming. How to be Popular didn’t strike quite the same chord with me as Teen Idol, but I enjoyed it nonethless. Maybe the whole hook up between Steph and Jason was a wee bit predicatable, but come on, that’s what chick lit is all about! It was charming, well written, full of funny, likeable characters, and generally a pleasant read, with a good ending.
Pants on Fire (2007)
Another high note. The switch back to the East coast was jarring to me (so few books take place in Indiana, I was getting kind of used to her’s taking me back there), but the characters were cute, the story was funny, and only a tad far-fetched–cerainly still believable. The teen hormones were a-flyin’, and I enjoyed the ride. Still not on par with Teen Idol but a fun read, none the less.
And then what happened? We were flying high. I liked Jen and Steph and even Katie. I Enjoyed the wide range of boys, the lessons about being yourself/standing up for yourself/being yourself, respectively, were all woven into the stories in a nice, not too in-your-face manner, and the writing was sharp and witty. And then Jean Honeychurch comes along and annoys the pants off me. At least, not in the way Mia did, but in sort of a contrived, this is silly kind of way. The whole witch thing was too much for me, and, on top of that, Jean’s obsessive belief that Zach is desperately in love with Petra (not unlike Steph’s belief that Jason is in love with that coffee shop chick, but way more of a major plot point). I just don’t get how she’s such an idiot. I just don’t get it. When I was in high school I was fully aware when a boy was flirting with me. Not that it happened often. But I was still fully aware. ANd then I had to run away, to stop the blush from spreading all the way across my face.
Ok, so the premise is totally unbelievable. And the book sort of fell flat when it came to exploring all the angles. And seriously, even medical miracles aside, how can a reader be expected to believe that Em’s parents don’t have any say in the fact that she has to go and live by herself, as a 17 year old, in a loft in NYC. The whole thing just smacks of bad fan fic. But the thing is, it’s not. It’s funny, and engaging, and you really feel for Em. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out. I mean, I’m seriously counting the days until May, when I can read Being Nikki. So she did someting right with this book, despite the surface problems. Overall, a charming read that makes me want to know how the charactes fare afte turning the final page.
So, that’s it. Those are the only ones I’ve read. Haven’t gotten around to the adult books, though I plan to. I probably won’t be reading 1-800-WHERE-R-U, since I tend to prefer humor to missing children. And I doubt I can handle Avalon High. My years of studying the Vulgate Arthurian cycles, and my dissertation on Malory make it too difficult for me to read teenage mock ups of Arthurian legend. My brain fries with all the anachronisms.
So, what did this timeline teach me? Nothing, except that I get annoyed when teenage girls whine too much and/or obsess about their feelings for a boy/a boy’s feelings for another girl to the point of absolute distraction. Overall, I think as she’s matured as a writer, I’ve come to appreciate her books more, with the exception of jinx. I mean, even Airhead, which you have to admit seems pretty flawed, is a charming book full of likeable characters.
So, I’m going to rescind any statements I’ve made about Meg Cabot in the past. And give her career an overall positive rating 🙂 Not that she needs that from me. I mean, she’s already a huge bestseller, with movie options on almost all her books, enough money that she doesn’t need a day job, homes in NYC and Key West, and a pretty kick ass body. She’s been doing fine without my appreciation. But for what it’s worth, Meg, I heart you.
Now what am I going to do to fill the rest of this very slow night on desk?