Authority figures are not evil just because they are authority figures. But thank you oh so much for impressing on teenagers that this is the case. It really helps when parents want to do reasonable things like enforce a curfew or make them do homework.
Not every kid hates their parents. Writing something set in the 'real' world and hinting in the narration that kids in general are and should be shocked to find a loving parental figure just makes me cry inside. And then put down your book. And possibly demand a refund.
I know it's important to make your heroine stand out in some way. Naturally, I'm going to be more interested in reading a story about someone who is special rather than someone who is so average as to be bland. The way to make your character special? Is not to make every other character in the story dull as a sack of bricks. She needs to actually be above average, not average in a really f-ed up world.
Courts? (As in a fantasy/medieval royal court) I'd really like to see at least one or two where every female (except the heroine) isn't a dimwitted, snide bitch. There really needs to be a variety. Plenty of ladies in that time/setting managed to be well-educated and eloquent and perfectly nice, if perhaps a little dull. Even the scandal-causing ones didn't have to be bitchy to cause scandal.
On that same note, teaching things like history, dancing, deportment, penmanship, and how to eat without causing a mess to a princess/potential princess does not constitute torture. In fact, they tend to be actually kind of important, since people generally have to like you before they'll trust you/support you/make alliances with you. Which could be vital to your rule/continued living. Yes, I said it. Having good manners might actually save your life. I'd even hazard to say that it's more likely to do so than knowing sword-fighting.
Granted, I only got about 1/3rd of the way through this steaming pile of crap, but that was enough for me to give up. I looked online for reviews of it and everyone attacked the writing style of it and the fact that Ben's 'plumpness' was being treated as a joke issue more than a real one. No one seemed to mind that:
Once again, we have a princess being raised outside of court and being allowed to wallow around in the mud with her commoner friends and live the joyously free and uneducated life of someone who isn't going to grow up to rule a country. For...no discernible reason, other than her mother wanted her to be all happy and carefree. I'm all for letting kids be kids but...really, I'm just sick of this trope altogether. I want to see it die in a fire. "Hey kids! Going to take a role when you grow up that requires you to be educated, composed, and at least a little bit sneaky? Don't worry, you can learn everything you'll need to know on the job from your self-serving advisers! Not that you'll listen to them, since you've never had to go through a day of intellectual work in your life and will want nothing more than to run around outside in the mud." Good going, Mom. This continued even after it was clear that she was going to inherit the throne eventually and there was no one in line before her.
Then her parents die. Okay, I did feel a reasonable amount of pity for her at that point. But then she moved into the castle with her aunt who started to teach her the skills she would need to know to eventually be Queen/King. And OMG, she had to forgo desserts and not overeat at every meal and learn things she didn't like and live in her 3-room, pastel colored suit and she couldn't see her low-born friends from town because she burst into tears every time they visited and the Queen (in her infinite cruelty) said that it wasn't wise for a future queen to cry so much in front of her subjects. The horror! Mind you, folks, this story is told in first person as if it's a memoir written by Ben in her old age. That means that when the narration states that 'any sane and compassionate soul would define such an existence as intolerable' we're supposed to believe that it's a 60+ year old woman writing this. A pissed off 15 year old girl, okay, I can believe her saying that, but a fully grown woman who should know better?
There are literally no characters in this entire court who are the least bit sympathetic. Everyone she meets is an idiot who can't hold more than a vaguely vapid conversation and is either in cahoots with the queen or terrified of her to the point of cowering.
After being a reasonable-but-haughty lady who gets mildly annoyed that Ben was being a brat about absolutely everything she possibly could, the Queen suddenly took a left turn into crazy-town when she found Ben was sneaking sweets in her room. And decided to lock her in a tower with nothing more than a crappy bed and couple of mice and lets her out only at mealtimes. That's about the point at which I just frikkin gave up. You really can't have your villain-du-jour be that flippin spastic, unless of course she's been spastic from the beginning. And no matter how much the author seems to want me to believe it, I still just can't find it in me to equate 'forced to learn penmanship' with 'locked in a tower'.
This book had so much potential and instead turned into every reason I hate books with princesses in them.