Author: Shannon Hale
Publisher: Bloomsbury (August 21, 2012)
Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley
Summary from Goodreads:Review:
Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting . . . until she learns that they have some frightening plans. They think that Miri will help them, that she "should "help them. Soon Miri finds herself torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends' ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city. Picking up where "Princess Academy "left off, this incredible stand-alone story celebrates the joys of friendship, the delight of romance, and the fate of a beloved fairy tale kingdom.
Wow. Simply wow. I LOVED this book. I couldn't put it down once I started and I am so excited that the publishing date is finally here because now I can shout from the rooftops about how amazing this book is and people can buy it starting tomorrow!
It's been several years since I've read the first book, Princess Academy. I didn't think I would be able to remember everything when starting this book, but Hale does an exceptional job of catching her readers up and connecting the two books together seamlessly. I don't like it when authors over do it on the reminding readers of what happened in the previous book. I hate it when a TV show takes a commercial break and when you get back to the show, the actors just say the same exact lines over again. Hale does it naturally and effortlessly. I didn't feel like I was forgetting anything even though it's been such a long time.
Miri is such a wonderful character for young girls and boys. She is intelligent, brave and isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes in, but she's also vulnerable and is conflicted by the decision to continue her education at the cost of being away from her family. In Palace of Stone, we find Miri leaving her home at Mount Eskel to go to school at the Queen's Castle, but when she arrives there she discovers there is unrest in the kingdom.
Hale is such a masterful storyteller in the way she explores the complex issues of poverty, revolution, loyalty, friendship and love. She exposes the conflict that Miri feels regarding all these issues in such a honest, real way that I think will resonate with MG/YA readers and even adult ones. I enjoyed the journey with Miri as she tries to figure out what is the right thing to do. I honestly had no idea how the story was going to end, but I was pleasantly surprised with all the action! And the love triangle too!
I can't wait to put this book in the hands of my students this year because I know it will bring up such rich discussions and push them to really think about hard issues that don't often show up in the books that they read. It's also in the September Scholastic Book Order and you know I'm going to push it when I do my "spotlight on recommendations" when the orders go home. :)
Even though I was surprised that Palace of Stone was written as a sequel, because Princess Academy ended and wrapped up so nicely, it is the book that I didn't know I needed or wanted. I am so glad that Hale decided to finally write this because it is an amazing piece of literature. I will preface my next statement by saying that I am no expert in Newbery winners (because I've only read a dozen or so), but I think Palace of Stone should definitely be a contender for the Newbery this year (and not just an honor)! It is THAT good. Go get it, you won't regret it.
5 out of 5 starsAnd now, the book trailer!
About the Author: Shannon Hale
Author's website: http://www.squeetus.com/stage/main.html
If you would like to find out more about Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday, you can check out Shannon Messenger's blog here.