By: Cait Marie
Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity… and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.
In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.
Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?
This book was absolutely adorable. It had been on my TBR for over a year, and I’d heard nothing but good about it. Well, it deserves the hype.
It’s essentially the Japanese version of The Princess Diaries, and I was totally here for it.
Izzy was such an awkward, endearing character that I immediately connected with. Despite her being a lot more outgoing than myself, she was very relatable personality-wise.
Her struggle of finding her place in the world is a universal one, but it hits a little different when it comes from one’s heritage and culture. This is not something I’ve personally had to deal with; it’s enlightening to read about though. I really enjoy books with different cultures such as this. I also really love that her journey actually took her to Japan, instead of her just learning about it.
Though the storyline was a tad predictable, there was still one big twist I didn’t see coming. And the predictability didn’t make the book any less enjoyable. In fact, it read almost like a familiar, comfort read that way, and I could hardly stop. I stayed up until 6 a.m. reading it!
Izumi and Aiko have this immediate tension, but the romance wasn’t the focus of most of the book. Aiko was only mentioned here and there for the first half, and then it was like a switch flipped and the romance was a major plot point. It was pretty insta-love-y, and normally I don’t like that, but I shipped them from the beginning and the author made it work. It was sudden, but it also didn’t feel too fast somehow. I think it’s because they started to become genuine friends and were there for each other on a much deeper level than any of the other characters. It just really worked, and I adore them.
There was one detail that kind of got to me, however. It’s not spoilery, don’t worry. When it’s discovered she’s the princess, it’s just automatically accepted. People who work for the royal family show up to invite her to Japan, immediately treating her as a princess without question. It’s not until later in the book that it casually mentions she took a blood test upon arrival, and it almost felt like it was added in as an afterthought. It wasn’t a huge deal, I still adored the book, but it was strange to me that they wouldn’t do that right away before bringing her all the way to Japan. It was also never clear how they found out about her, how her email leaked. I genuinely thought that was going to be a bigger part of the plot, but it was just brushed off.
I might have been the only one to notice these things though. Like I said, it didn’t really impact my reading experience. It was just kind of lingering in the back of my mind, especially in the beginning.
Regardless, this book became an instant favorite, and I’m so glad there’s a sequel releasing in May! I’m actually already reading it. I got an ARC from the publisher through YABC, so that review will be coming soon!