When Japanese-American Izumi Tanaka learned her father was the Crown Prince of Japan, she became a princess overnight. Now, she’s overcome conniving cousins, salacious press, and an imperial scandal to finally find a place she belongs. She has a perfect bodyguard turned boyfriend. Her stinky dog, Tamagotchi, is living with her in Tokyo. Her parents have even rekindled their college romance and are engaged. A royal wedding is on the horizon! Izumi’s life is a Tokyo dream come true.
Her parents’ engagement hits a brick wall. The Imperial Household Council refuses to approve the marriage citing concerns about Izumi and her mother’s lack of pedigree. And on top of it all, her bodyguard turned boyfriend makes a shocking decision about their relationship. At the threat of everything falling apart, Izumi vows to do whatever it takes to help win over the council. Which means upping her newly acquired princess game.
But at what cost? Izumi will do anything to help her parents achieve their happily ever after, but what if playing the perfect princess means sacrificing her own? Will she find a way to forge her own path and follow her heart?
Note: The following review contains spoilers to Tokyo Ever After.
Tokyo Ever After was one of my favourite books of last year – a gorgeous story that fulfilled every Princess Diaries-esque dream that I had and made me giddy with joy. Tokyo Dreaming, the sequel, follow Izumi once more as she continues to navigate the challenges of being a princess of Japan. With her family now all together, the life that she always dreamed is now within her fingertips – until her parents’ engagement hits a brick wall when The Imperial Household Council refuses to approve of their marriage. Determined to win over the council and to ensure her parents’ own happily ever after, Izumi decides to up her princess game – but at what cost?
Tokyo Ever After delivered on all the tropey goodness of a light-hearted contemporary. While Tokyo Dreaming still has the warm and fuzzies that readers loved from the first book, the sequel offers more nuance. The story explores what it means to be perfect for others (particularly when she has been content with being average her whole life) and the sacrifices Izumi makes for duty and her parents and at what cost to her own happiness and life. I appreciated that Tokyo Dreaming sits in the fuzzy area of choosing duty and her family because it is her choice, rather than something she is unwillingly forced to do, but also how her happiness and being her authentic self is important as well. Izumi’s character growth is truly a delight in Tokyo Dreaming, giving room to her mistakes and uncertainty about herself and the future.
When Izumi’s bodyguard boyfriend, Akio, makes a shocking decision about their relationship, I felt just as broken as her. Though what happens between Akio and Izumi is thoroughly devastating, I enjoyed that the story focuses a lot on her grief-ridden feelings; break-ups as a teen are especially heart-shattering, and I enjoyed the room that the story gives for Izumi to go through the motions of her grief and anger. Trying her best to move on while also bearing the pressure of upholding her image as the perfect princess, this leads Izumi to strike a deal with her tutor, Eriku. Indeed, Tokyo Dreaming once more delivers on the tropey goodness in the form of fake dating and a fantastically written love triangle that had me feeling just as torn as Izumi.
In tandem with Izumi’s wonderful story is also the heartfelt story about her parents, whose reconnect and their love rekindled in the end of the first book. Their second-chance royal/commoner romance hits all the right spots; there’s something so lovely and romantic about university sweethearts who never stopped loving each other, and get their chance of happily ever after in their older age. However, Izumi’s parents’ story is not without its challenges and tribulations, all of which is explored with great emotional nuance.
Tokyo Dreaming is a fantastic sequel, one that will be loved by the readers who enjoyed the silliness and fun and yet craved more nuance and depth from the first book from Tokyo Ever After. A lovely and affirming story about love – and why it matters despite all its hardships and the pain that sometimes come with it – and forging your own path, even as a princess.
MY CONCLUSION: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Is this book for you?
Premise in a sentence: Izumi navigates the challenges of becoming the best princess she can be in order to win the Imperial Household Council’s approval for her parents’ marriage.
Perfect for: Readers who loved Tokyo Ever After, readers who love fluff and romance tropes, readers who love stories about finding yourself.
Think twice if: Readers who didn’t enjoy Tokyo Ever After and readers who don’t enjoy ‘silly’ and fluffy stories.
Genre: young adult contemporary romance