When I read and adored Tokyo Ever after last year, I didn’t know it would become a series. Let me tell you: I was so excited to find out about Tokyo Dreaming and happy to get back to these characters! I have so much for for Izumi and Akio and the world she found herself thrust into, and it was interesting to see the other side of the glitz and glamor (although sad, too).
While I didn’t love this book as much as the first one, Tokyo Dreaming is funny and full of heart.
About Tokyo Dreaming
Publisher: Flatiron Books • Release Date: May 31, 2022 • Pages: 336
Age Range: Young Adult • Genre: Contemporary • Format: eARC • Source: Netgalley
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?
🌱 Coming of Age story set after HS graduation
🌞 Sunshine cinnamon roll character
👑 Princess Diaries “but make it Asian”
🏯 Set in Japan
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My Review of Tokyo Dreaming
We’ve all been there: 18 years old with the whole world ahead of us and the expectation that we know what to do and what we want to do. Now take that general confusion of “what do I wanna be when I grow up” and add the expectations of the Crown with all its new rules and trappings. Talk about stressful!
“The truth is, I’m having a hard time deciding what to do. I mean, what am I really passionate about beyond eating and sleeping?“
Relatable, Izumi. Tokyo Dreaming really tackles the whole concept of needing to be special and have high aspirations, which I find honestly refreshing in an era of YA where characters all go to elite universities and have clear goals. Isn’t average good enough when you are a good person? There’s a true juxtaposition between Izumi’s upbringing in Mount Shasta (lower pressure but feeling out of place) and her new life in Japan (higher pressure but feels a sense of belonging). That isn’t to say that Izumi doesn’t feel like an outsider as someone who grew up in the diaspora.
“Ever since becoming a princess, all experiences have been weighted with expectations and worries about how I might be perceived.”
In many ways this is more a book about the family and their relationship with the Imperial Agency, but it also features Izumi just trying to figure things out. School was never really her thing and she doesn’t know if she even wants to go to university, but as the daughter of the Crown Prince there are expectations. Incredibly high expectations she never had to meet before but is being held to this new standard, all the while being judged by everyone and in the press.
“But there are still rules to abide by. Princess rules. What I can do and what I can’t Like my major. I may choose it but within certain parameters. Does life always come with constraints? Is that part of growing up?“
I love Izumi’s family and everything developing between each of them with the introduction of her father into her life. The fact her parents still hold a candle for one another 18 years later? My heart. The whirlwind romance. The intense love Izumi feels for her parents to do anything in her power so her parents can get married: including sacrificing her own happiness. The reason this book didn’t hit quite the same for me is the relationship, which I won’t go into but have complicated feelings on.
One thing I do hope/expect will be fixed in the finished copy is the timeline. The dates in Tokyo Dreaming are in 2022 – thus a year after the events of Tokyo Ever After – but it’s actually just a few months later (the AGG is just now entering college not their sophomore year). Just a little continuity error my brain couldn’t not grasp onto, especially since a lot of the plot is tied up in whether Izumi wants to take a gap year or go to college.
Overall, Tokyo Dreaming is a delightful sequel in the “Wait, I’m a Princess? but make it Asian” series that focuses on not only the coming of age anxieties of what to do with our lives but also Izumi’s journey to figuring out who she is as someone who grew up in the diaspora, all while also dealing with the expectations now thrown at her because of the whole princess thing. There’s some fake dating, sunshine cinnamon rolls, parents falling madly in love with one another, and a girl trying to please everyone but herself… then coming to terms with what she wants.
Highly recommended to readers who enjoy contemporary stories, especially ones centered on being royal. The family dynamics are definitely amazing as well!
Also by Emiko Jean
No two readers experience a book in the same way; this was mine, but what about you?
💬 Have you read Tokyo Ever After or Tokyo Dreaming yet? If so, what are your thoughts?
💬 Did I convince you to add this book to your TBR?
💬 What books would you recommend with the “newly royal” trope?