Earlier this year, I decided to listen to the entire Princess Diaries series on audio, a comforting stroll down memory lane originally intended to help me fall asleep.
Eleven books later, I was surprised by how much I’d forgotten about the series. Because of course, while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t my favorite series as a young girl. Oh no, I went in for weirder back in those days.
My favorite series, which I checked out from the local library on a repeating cycle, was a different one by Meg Cabot. The Mediator series. Because why be a teenage girl in love with a normal teenage boy when you can be a teenage girl in love with a ghost?
I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find the books on audio, since they were never made into a movie like The Princess Diaries was, and audiobooks back then were giant cases of CDs you had to lug around, making them less popular and easily accessible.
But lo and behold the modern magic of Audible. Audio reread number two was ON.
I am now three books in, and it’s funny to see the things I simply did not question or even notice as a kid. I must have been quite young when I first read these, since the library I remember getting them from is somewhere we lived when I was in the fourth grade.
If this isn’t where I got the books, my imagination must be quite an overactive one, since I can still see the spinning racks of mass market paperbacks there in the back corner of the teen zone, behind the row of desktop computers where my fellow nerds played World of Warcraft.
Looking back, it’s a little bit unsettling to think about young me tearing through these books in which people have died in sometimes horrific ways, but hey, I think I turned out okay. This maybe sounds a bit weird if you haven’t read the books, so please allow me to briefly backpeddle with a quick synopsis.
The Mediator series is about a girl named Suze Simon, who can see (and punch, and make out with) ghosts. Her role as mediator is to help them move on by resolving their unfinished business here on earth.
This often gets her into trouble, of course, since no one else can see, hear, or make out with ghosts. At least, no one but her mentor and school principal Father Dominic, that is.
Because it’s a book that preteen Amanda enjoyed, it stands to reason there’s also a love story. It just so happens that Suze’s love interest is a tiny bit on the dead side. And here you thought Twilight was a girl’s first foray into boyfriends of the undead variety.
Before this reread, I’ve never listened to the books on audio, and it’s interesting to hear someone give voice to the ghostly cowboy who is almost certainly my first major bookish crush. What’s more interesting is that Jesse is calling Suze “querida” from, basically, their first conversation. Which, let’s face it, is a little bit weird but not quite “I like to break into your bedroom and watch you sleep” weird.
Things a young me never questioned: love of an instant and/or supernatural variety.
The books follow a pretty similar monster(and potential boyfriend)-of-the-week formula for the first few, but I recall things get mixed up a bit as we go along.
Because I read them so many times as a kid, I remember plot details even if I don’t consciously know that I know them, which means as soon as a character is introduced, I go, “oh, right, this is the guy who [insert plot twist here].”
Even with a brain full of spoilers, I’m immensely enjoying rereading these books. Suze has got to be one of my favorite YA heroines with her sassy, no-nonsense approach to kicking ghost butt and her self-assured sense of her own abilities.
Even though teenage me was more of a Mia, scribbling in my notebooks and inventing my own drama, she wanted to be Suze. And, ghost boyfriend aside, I’m kind of glad she did.
It’s hard to say how these would hold up for a first time reader. There are some conventions that I think modern series have moved away from, like re-explaining things in each book as if the reader might stumble upon book three and need an explanation for what a mediator is. And then of course, there’s Suze running around without a cell phone, using her landline’s call waiting and having her stepbrother look things up in the library basement.
I guess what I’m saying is I’d be curious to pass the books around to my first year college students and see what they make of them. Curious, but not enough to actually do it, because I am far too invested in these books to handle the possibility that today’s youths wouldn’t like them. Not to mention, I can’t expect distributing books that involve chicken blood exorcisms on more than one occasion would go over all that well with the administration.
For now, I’ll keep them to myself, and share them amongst my online book friends. Even if I sometimes feel at 29 that I’m on the older end of the book blogging community.
What are your favorite books from when you were younger? Have you revisited them over the years?
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