Monday, May 11, 2015

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

Title: I Am Princess X
Author: Cherie Priest
Release Date:
May 26, 2015

Cover Impressions: Love the cover art.  The princess looks amazing (I am a big fan of the chucks). 

The Gist:

Once upon a time, two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the tales, and their heroine, Princess X, slayed all the dragons and scaled all the mountains their imaginations could conjure.

Once upon a few years later, Libby was in the car with her mom, driving across the Ballard Bridge on a rainy night. When the car went over the side, Libby passed away, and Princess X died with her.

Once upon a now: May is sixteen and lonely, wandering the streets of Seattle, when she sees a sticker slapped in a corner window.

Princess X?

When May looks around, she sees the Princess everywhere: Stickers. Patches. Graffiti. There's an entire underground culture, focused around a webcomic at The more May explores the webcomic, the more she sees disturbing similarities between Libby's story and Princess X online. And that means that only one person could have started this phenomenon---her best friend, Libby, who lives.

As young girls, May and Libby bonded over the creation of Princess X.  May wrote the stories, Libby drew the comics.  Both girls lived vicariously through the Princess' adventures until the day Libby died.  Supposedly.  For years, May dreams of her friend misses the days they spent creating a world for themselves.  Until the day she discovers a sticker that looks remarkably like their Princess X.  This leads her on a search throughout the city for more proof and she quickly realizes that there are just too many parallels for the comic to be coincidence.  With the help of her neighbor and hacker (with slightly criminal leanings) Trick, May begins to delve deeper into the world of Princess X and realizes that Libby's death may not have been as real as she had believed.  She is still out there, and she has left clues so that Libby can find her and bring her home. 
I Am Princess X is a really unique blend of graphic novel and traditional storytelling.  Sprinkled throughout the book are pieces of a graphic novel that features a princess trying to escape her captor and find several items of power in order to save her kingdom.  The illustrations are beautiful and the story of Princess X melds with the mystery of the missing girl in a really interesting way.  I do wish my review copy had included more of the illustrations, but I will definitely be picking up a finished copy when it is released.  
I enjoyed the characters but I do wish there had been more development and that they had been more consistent, for example Trick is given the backstory of having made some poor decisions, losing his scholarship and doing whatever he can in order to earn enough money to pay for school himself.  However, once he meets May, he drops all of that in order to run around the city looking for clues to Libby's whereabouts.  I was pretty happy with the complete lack of a romantic storyline.  That is downright refreshing in a YA novel and I felt that May had a pretty realistic relationship with her parents.  

Unfortunately, I Am Princess X suffered from that same old issue when writers who are used to writing for an adult audience make the foray into young adult.  They just don't seem to give young readers enough credit.  This leads to a strange style of writing where they appear to "dumb things down", as if the writer thought she had to make it easier in order for a teen to "get it".  This meant there was lots of repetition of things that we already knew (like the fact that she went to Libby's funeral or that she prefers hot chocolate to coffee), bland statements of facts and recaps of events, with little to no nuance to the mystery itself.  It also made reference to tech and social media in a very "look, I'm a cool adult, I know what twitter is" kind of way.   
Ultimately, I am Princess X is a suspenseful story about a missing girl.  And it does this very well.  May searches for clues in the comics and then those translate into real life adventures to find the "keys" Libby has left behind.  There is a real sense of danger as the bad guy is your Criminal Minds type kidnapper with an intelligent manner of planning and some serious tech savvy skills that keep the kids running.  
It is a great read for those interested in a quick mystery and it will really appeal to fans of graphic novels who want to explore how the genre can work within a traditional story.   

Teaching/Parental Notes:

12 and up
Sex:  None
Violence:  Kidnapping, Drowning, Gunplay
Inappropriate Language: None
Substance Use/Abuse: None

This and other reviews can be seen on Young Adult Books Central


Post a Comment