Showing posts with label Meg Cabot. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Meg Cabot. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Rating: WARTY!

This officially marks my flat refusal to read another thing written by Meg Cabot! I've read her Ready Or Not and found it a not ready. I read Haunted and found it more ghastly than ghostly, and I read Size 12 and Ready to Rock and found it ready to rot!

Perhaps this novel should have been titled "The Princess Diarrhea", since it both runs to more than ten volumes, and the main character, Mia, runs off at the mouth with an endless bitch and tedious moan about everything. What a nightmare she is. The novel is nothing like the movie, and bland as that is, the movie is far better. The movie has heart. All the novel has is spleen. The novel is as washed out as the Genovian flag, but it did make me want to watch the movie again.

The audio book is read by Anne Hathaway, who played the role of Mia in the movie. Her reading actually isn't too bad, but her voice tends towards mumble here and there. That's all I have to say about it, other than that I ditched it in short order, and I've now sworn off ever again reading anything by Meg Cabot!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Haunted by Meg Cabot

Rating: WARTY!

Read really annoyingly by Alanna Ubach, this novellette sounded interesting from the blurb, but it turned out to be yet another irritating first person PoV, which is worst person in practice, and it honestly had nothing to do with ghosts, not really. You could have taken the minimal presence of ghosts completely out of the picture and had very nearly the same story: a sixteen year old has literally nothing on her mind than boys.

Tiresomely, there's the trope bad boy that the mc falls for, and the standard issue best friend. Often I find I like the best friend better than the main character, but such was not the case here, so this story didn't even have that going for it. I actually didn't like anyone. I know this is a part of a larger world, none of which I'm familiar with, but that doesn't alter the fact that we had a weak and uninteresting main character, and a story which had nothing new to offer and not a thing to recommend it. I have no need now to read anything else in this world, nor anything else by Meg Cabot (and yes, it's ca-bot, not cab-oh, so there isn't even anything unexpected there).

Susannah Simon, the protagonist, is dating a ghost - she and other special snowflakes like her can physically interact with ghosts - but like I said, the ghosts may as well have been ordinary and very retiring people for all they contributed to the story. All that was left was your stereotypical and clueless high school girl in love, which is tedious, uninventive and done to death. Meg Cabot needs a new shtick, and she's not alone amongst YA authors in that respect.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot

Rating: WARTY!

This is evidently volume 4 in a series, which I once again jumped into not realizing. There was nothing on the audio case to indicate it was mid series. I'm not a fan of series unless they're well done. I liked the title of this one. The problem was in the writing. The audio CD started out with music, which I have encountered frequently on audio CDs, and which I have never understood. The author's original typescript typically contains no music in my experience so whence the impetus to lard up the CD version with it - because CDs first were produced as a vehicle for music distribution? Seriously, that's your 'irrationale'? The reading by Sandy Rustin wasn't very good either.

That was the first problem, but fortunately it was brief, since I skipped the track entirely and landed, amazingly, at chapter one. Unfortunately, then I had what I took to be poetry, but later learned were songs Meg Cabot had 'composed' larding up the start of each chapter. I skipped these. No diva in 2012 is going anywhere up the charts with lyrics like those. The story is of a size twelve young woman who is in charge of one of the residence halls at a university. It's the summer, but there are people in residence for one reason or another, and the story opens with the main character being shot - by a paintball. The author milks this for all it's worth trying to make it sound like it was a real bullet, but failing to make it convincing. No one who is shot could continue to narrate in the smart-assed and sassy fashion this narrator does, so my good will was lost right there.

The entire story quickly devolved into university administrative procedures and meetings, and I asked myself what I was doing even pretending to listen to this tedious nonsense. Maybe if you're invested in the series, you can swallow this better than I did, I who came into it in progress, and didn't even miss the previous volumes. I couldn't get into it, and I had no interest in pursuing this story. According to other reviewers, the murder mystery doesn't even begin until half the book is taken-up with filler, and having jumped to the last disk to listen to that as I was driving to return this to the library that same day I started listening to it, I realized that this was written like a bad movie horror B picture - the killer miraculously escaping, only to pop-up later and threaten the main character. The final showdown was a tour-de-force in awful and I won't recommend this kind of writing. I'm done with Meg Cabot now.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ready Or Not by Meg Cabot

Title: Ready Or Not
Author: Meg Cabot
Publisher: Random House
Rating: WARTY!

This audio CD is read by Ariadne Meyers and she does an acceptable job, but is occasionally annoying.

Ready of Not is a sequel to Meg Cabot's best selling All American Girl Samantha Madison lives in Washington, D.C. (District of Columbia). Sam's in high school and is pretty much your typical YA fictional juvenile, self-obsessed, teen girl, I'm sorry to report. I was hoping for better. The big difference here is that she's dating the president's son after having, in volume 1, saved the president's life. I haven't read volume 1, so I'm going only on this particular sequel. And yes, I'm listening to this while I wait for a more entertaining audio book read to arrive at my library, otherwise I doubt I would have picked this up at all. It did initially sound interesting though. It isn’t.

The dire lack of realism bothered me immensely. I cannot believe, given how close she is to the US "royal family" that there isn't even a hint of a Secret Service presence somewhere, somehow, in Sam's life, but apparently there isn’t. I dunno: maybe the Secret Service actually doesn’t care about who the presidential children date, but I find that hard to believe given how easy it would be to use the 'love interest' of a president's son or daughter to influence or manipulate behavior, or even to threaten the presidency.

I have to wonder seriously about people who write novels like this one, and even more so why this kind of writing is so popular. Obviously girls of a certain age really like to read this stuff, and this makes me sad, because then I have to ask: is there nothing going through young minds other than sex (if the character is a guy) or guys (if the character is a girl)? Yes, this ignores gay relationships, but then, so too does all-too-much YA fiction, except in rather insulting token form. And do YA writers never feel any need to offer alternatives, to enlighten, to inform, to encourage changed behavior, to educate? That really bothers me, because if we as writers are doing nothing beyond pandering to the lowest common denominator, then what differentiates us from parasites?

Cabot renders Sam as a gigantic fan of Gwen Stefani for reasons which seem to me to be more projection of authorial tastes than realism, but in 2005, Stefani was still a popular artist so this isn't unfeasible. Sam also works part time at a video tape rental store, which really dates this novel, but again, it’s not entirely outrageous even though VHS's death-knell had long been rung by 2005 when this novel is set.

Sam's older sister is a cheerleader and a guy magnet so, cliché to the max there. Her kid sister Rebecca, is super smart, so once again we have a special case kid in Sam, because she's so ordinary. Special because you're ordinary? Hmm. Sam is also a special case because of her action in saving the president, yet this seems not to have impacted her life. She herself claims that nothing has changed, yet everyone is paying attention to her. Is she so dumb she doesn’t notice this? For example, one time in school, she's talking on her phone to David, the president's son when there are, for unrelated reasons, cameras in the school, and suddenly everyone goes quiet, the cameras are all turned on her, and they're all listening in. This seemed ridiculous to me, especially since it didn’t seem to faze Sam at all. Yet despite this, there is not a single paparazzo chasing her around.

Sam is also a teen ambassador to the United Nations. This evidently came about in the previous novel, but if the only reason for it was her saving the president, that's pretty pathetic. So this story kicks in when David invites Sam to join him for Thanksgiving dinner at Camp David, the presidential retreat (where he goes when he's being attacked?!). For unexplained reasons (other than that she's a moron, maybe?), Sam becomes convinced that David invited her solely because he wants to have sex with her. Why only she, and not her entire family, was invited goes unexplained.

I have no idea how Sam can be so utterly air-headed, so this is where this novel really got on the skids for me. The problem was not that sons of presidents never think about, or even never have, sex, but that I honestly couldn’t believe that any presidential son could possibly have an interest in someone as boring, vacuous, and shallow as Sam. Unless, of course, the son was at odds with his president dad, and wanting to rebel. But given the options he has, could he not have chosen someone a little more substantial to employ in his rebellion? And why would he choose a girl who saved his dad's life if he was rebelling? It would make a much more interesting story if he'd taken up with the daughter of the guy who sought to assassinate his dad! Now there would have been a novel!

Worse than this is that her older sister sells herself out as the brainless cheerleader stereotype when she buys into Sam's delusion and provides her with contraception, but apparently supplies no good sex advice along with the tools. This makes no sense on several levels. Sam is ambivalent about having sex (hence the novel's title), which is smart, yet she wants to go fully prepared for sex! In a way that's smart, but in other ways it’s dumb.

I mean, if she's ambivalent, she needs to say "No!" until she's not ambivalent, and it seems to me that while effective contraception is always a good idea, her sister's choice isn’t, and Sam's taking it along anyway suggests that she's willing to be compromised even if she's not on-board with this plan. This struck me as really dumb behavior on her part; it read (listened!) as being very confused and also confusing. I can see what Cabot is trying to do here, but I'm unconvinced that this is the best way to present this situation to a young audience - especially since the most important part - discussing this frankly with her intended partner - is entirely skipped.

Once I’d decided how I would rate this novel, I went out and read some reviews (positive and negative) to see if I’d missed anything that I ought perhaps to have considered. In general there was not, but what really struck me in a few of the negative reviews was the significant amount of hypocrisy in evidence. Several of them went beyond reviewing the novel into reviewing the author, accusing Cabot of having an agenda (which was to promote teen premarital sex)! I found it hilarious that not a single one of those reviewers ever considered that they themselves had a religious agenda which they were promoting.

I don’t have time for religion, which to me is no better than a bad fantasy novel. I do agree that keeping children safe and healthy is of prime importance, but the only proven way to do this is to educate them and continue to educate them, and this means being realistic about the way things actually are. You're not going to get anywhere if you put on religious blinkers and try to pretend that things are in real life like they were in old fifties TV shows, where the family is white, and completely respectable, and irrepressibly happy, and there's one boy and one girl, and every problem is solvable in thirty minutes - and there aren't even toilets in the house! Get real!

Teenagers have sex. It’s a fact of life! They're not going to stop. Nor are they going to run-off and start having sex simply because they read a bad Meg Cabot novel. If you think otherwise, you're delusional, period. Those with a Christian religious agenda seem to have completely (or conveniently) forgotten that we ran things their way for close to two thousand years and their religious agenda failed dismally. Christian "love" failed to prevent war, and indeed promoted many. It failed to prevent pregnancies in unmarried women. It failed to prevent women being abused. It failed to prevent children being abused. It failed to prevent diseases from spreading. It failed to keep children safe from exploitation, and from having their life put at risk or prematurely terminated.

These people seem to have forgotten that it was under religious rule - indeed because of religious rule - that we had the crusades and the inquisitions, and that we hung witches and burned heretics. I flatly refuse to go back to those days.

Nor does it make sense to lecture a girl that she must never have sex until some guy puts a ring on her finger. Marriage is not a protection against a guy running out on you. It does not guarantee that a guy will be faithful to you! There are no guarantees. Even going into it with the best of intentions, a couple can fall out of love. Those pushing this agenda are deliberately ignoring divorce statistics. There is no magic solution, and it's the height of dishonesty to pretend that they have a solution in their blind belief system.

The only thing you can do with kids is to raise them in the most loving environment you can, whether you're a happy married couple, a single mom or dad, or two dads or two moms. It makes no difference. You need to keep them as healthy as you can - which includes getting them their appropriate vaccinations - and giving them the best all-around education you can. You must refuse to shy away from some difficult questions they may ask. Keeping them ignorant is not an option and offers no protection. Once you've done all of this, you need to trust them, and that's it. You cannot live their life for them.

Blaming authors like Meg Cabot for the ills of the world is brain-dead and displays ignorance of the real facts of life. Blame her for putting out a badly written novel if you must, as I do, but she's not responsible for the way in which we, as a society, raise our kids, or for the behaviors of those kids when they reach teen-hood.