I'm not sure what I was expecting with Princess Academy, but this wasn't it. I think I expected something more fantastical, while really, this was more realistic fiction than fantasy. I mean, there were some magical-ish parts, but no fairies or witches or anything of that sort.
So, the plot. Miri is a girl who lives with her family on Mount Eskel, where her village makes its living by harvesting a rare type of stone. When the prince's priests divine that the next princess will come from Mount Eskel, a "princess academy" is created to make ladies of rough mountain girls. After a year, the prince will choose one girl to be his bride.
Some themes that are dealt with are prejudice (the "lowlanders," people not from the mountain, feel that the mountain dwellers are stupid and coarse), misfits (Miri's father doesn't allow her to work in the quarry with everyone else, and she must deal with her feelings of inadequacy), and young love.
One of the things I loved about this book is how reading is portrayed as so important. Once the village girls learn to read, all sorts of new opportunities open up for them.
I wouldn't count this as one of my favorite books, but it was still good. I give it 3.5 stars. It started out sort of slow, but I was really enjoying it by the end.