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The Heir and the Spare Hardcover – January 1, 2016
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Nineteen-year-old Evie is following in her parent's footsteps by attending the University of Oxford. Despite transferring as a sophomore, Evie is immediately accepted into a group of friends and just as quickly develops a relationship with the debonair "spare heir" to the English throne, Edmund. With Edmund's help, Evie is on a quest to uncover a family secret that unfolds through a series of letters from her deceased mother. While the two grow closer, they face continuous obstacles, including the intrusion of Edmund's parent-approved love interest, Lady Jax, and Evie's common social standing as an American. However, readers will suspect very early on the secret that Evie keeps from Edmund. The plot moves along at a quick, though somewhat predictable pace. Supporting characters are one-dimensional, and Prince Edmund is almost entirely infallible. Fans of Meg Cabot's "Princess Diaries" (HarperCollins) may gravitate toward this one. VERDICT Teens will overlook predictability in favor of the delicious, compulsively readable fairy tale romance.—Lynn Rashid, Marriotts Ridge High School, Marriottsville, MD
"Albright debuts with an unabashed fairy tale romance of the American girl who meets her prince, while discovering her own royal background. It's a fine choice for fans of films like The Princess Diaries or The Prince and Me, or readers looking for a lighthearted romp with a guaranteed happy ending." --Publishers Weekly
"The magic of falling in love...and the challenges of difficult moral decisions are well-portrayed and have timeless appeal." --Kirkus Reviews
"The Heir and the Spare is a fun contemporary read. Evie is so cute and her sass comes out at just the perfect times, making her not too cookie-cutter or stereotypical. Ultimately, this book is a light mystery with the added steam of a royal romance, an HEA and plenty of secondary characters to enjoy." --RT Book Reviews
"Evie is on a quest to uncover a family secret that unfolds through a series of letters from her deceased mother.... [A] delicious, compulsively readable fairy tale romance." --School Library Journal
"Readers ... will appreciate this debut, which confidently combines royalty, romance, and mystery." --Booklist
"The story is enjoyable and fun to read. Never boring, never dull. Overall, this book is for those who love the PRINCESS DIARIES and its movies. THE HEIR AND THE SPARE is totally perfect for someone who is looking for a light, very cheesy, and fluffy read that isn't too serious for the brain." --YA Books Central
"An adorable book that is sure to capture any romantic's heart. The plot was incredibly fast-paced and would make for a fabulous beach read...a cute debut that will tickle any reader's toes." --TeenReads.com
"Contemporary royal romance? Yes, please! This is a fun, fast read that makes you swoon a little as you expel more than a few longing sighs. If you're hungry for clean NA romance--that happens to also be a royal romance with a heaping helping of 'ahhhhhh, sweet!'--you're going to love The Heir and the Spare." --USA Today Happy Ever After blog
"A delightful read for adults as well as...teens.... A classic with an upbeat, realistic feeling and a modern twist." --NY Journal of Books
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Things that were meh:
It had words.
Things I couldn't get behind:
LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT THIS BOOK, OH MY FRICKIN GOSH.
Look, I'm not gonna lie. I hate read this book. I knew on the first page I was going to hate it, but sometimes you just gotta do things you don't like because you NEED TO KNOW YOU'RE ALIVE, RIGHT? WELL I NEEDED TO KNOW I WAS ALIVE. THIS BOOK IS SO AWFUL AND I'M GOING TO TELL YOU WHY IN MY RIGHTEOUS RAGE.
So let's start with the setting. This book is supposed to be set in England. You know because there's a bit of an English flag on the cover, and because the author tells you you're in Britain on, like, every other page. You need all these clues though because literally nothing else about the book feels British at all. I'm assuming, from all of this, that the author is American. I don't really care to check on that. I'm also assuming she's never been to Oxford in her life, even via google maps. I haven't either, but I've certainly read FAN FICTION that gave a better sense of place than this book did.
Oh, and all these British characters? Talk like Americans, for the most part. You know they're British because occasionally the author throws in some charming little colloquialism just to remind you.
"But honestly, the way you took her on was cracking."
I just. What.
AND THEN. I'm like 99% sure this book was meant to be set in the modern day. But these characters all go on a ski trip in . . . some other country that isn't Britain but I honestly can't remember because the setting mattered that little. Edmund's parents are supposed to be there and it's super tense because this is the first time that Evie's going to meet them. And like. The King and Queen "receive" them? In evening wear? The Queen is wearing a tiara? Evie curtsies?
OH! And Evie takes Edmund with her to meet a duchess, and the duchess's butler leaves them standing in the hallway, which Edmund calls strange because normally you'd be taken to a receiving room . . . or . . . what.
What I'm saying is, I'm pretty sure she took her peerage protocol from historical romance novels, because that simply isn't the way things work. EXCEPT WHEN THINGS ARE SO FRICKIN PROGRESSIVE that the duchess is able to pass on her DUCHESS TITLE to her FEMALE HEIR. Lemme tell you how much that NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENS because EVERYTHING IS ENTAILED.
OH AND AND AND all this crap is made of the fact that Evie is common and dating the Prince and whatever and the duchess is telling her YOU WILL NEVER HAVE ANY FRIENDS EVERYONE WILL SHUT YOU OUT IF HE MARRIES YOU and I'm like . . . . . . he's a prince? How? What? Like? LOOK THE FRICKIN FUTURE QUEEN OF ENGLAND RIGHT NOW WAS BORN INTO A MIDDLE CLASS FAMILY AND YOU'RE TRYING TO PASS OFF THIS COMMONER FROM AMERICA AS THE SOLE THING THAT'S GOING TO BRING DOWN FASHIONABLE LONDON SOCIETY? THIS IS NOT THE 1800S, AUTHOR. IT'S NOT.
And let's get into the writing! She picks up and drops secondary and tertiary characters who are basically just cardboard cutouts of archetypes as she deems fit. There's a sexual assault in the middle of the book perpetrated by someone you never hear about before it happens and you never hear about after it happens and literally the sole literary purpose for this assault was to have the prince rescue her. Like, cool. You want a foil for your hero (who is, let's just get this out there, of the Edward-from-Twilight-ian school of heroes), YOU CAN DO THAT WITH LITERALLY ANYONE. YOU JUST HAVE TO MAKE THEM SLIGHTLY BORING AND NOT TO HER TASTE. OR EVEN REALLY INTERESTING AND NOT TO HER TASTE. THEY JUST HAVE TO BE NOT TO HER TASTE. YOU DON'T ACTUALLY HAVE TO MAKE THEM FRICKIN AWFUL PEOPLE.
She also just, like, SKIPS around in timelines with no real explanation as to how much time has passed. She's about to go riding and whoops she's afraid of horses and then all of a sudden she's back at school after her week off. Each chapter functions like a short story of one single scene, and god only knows how much time passes between each chapter.
Can we also talk about the fact that Evie, who grew up in America and probably went to places that sold People magazine fairly frequently, had no idea who Edmund was until someone told her? She didn't recognize the prince. She went. to school. in England. and didn't know who he was. HER MOTHER WAS BRITISH. AMERICANS ARE OBSESSED WITH BRITISH ROYALTY BECAUSE ALL WE HAVE IS PRESIDENTS. THEY CONTINUALLY AIRED PRINCE WILLIAM'S WEDDING ON TV HERE FOR THE ENTIRE WEEKEND WHEN IT HAPPENED FIVE YEARS AGO TODAY. THERE'S NO WAY SHE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT HE LOOKED LIKE YOUR ENTIRE ARGUMENT IS INVALID.
And all of this, ALL OF THIS, I think I probably could have born in the name of romance if I actually gave a single crap about the two main characters. But Evie is probably the most annoying person I've ever spent 280 pages reading about, and Edmund is precisely the type of manipulative a-hole parents SHOULD be warning their daughters about instead of whatever they're warning them about right now.
Evie spends a lot of time crying about whether or not Edmund likes her. When he does like her, her faith and trust in him is easily broken by a couple of incriminating photographs. She spends a lot of time tearing other ladies down in the book because they like Edmund, and even more time thinking to herself about how cool and quirky and different she is than these other girls that like him.
AND. FINALLY. All 280 pages of this book fail to pass the Bechdel test. Even when he's not there, Edmund is literally the only person Evie talks about for the entire book.
I'm kidding even for the most amazing female character ever I could never have forgiven any of the rest of this. I don't know why anyone is giving this book five stars. I suspect they aren't actually reading it.
After the first few chapters, I was able to push my weird feelings for the writing style aside (although they did pop up a little later but didn't really interfere with my experience) and just continue on with the book. The romance begins almost immediately on in the book but isn't really acted on until later. That was nice. I found myself really rooting for the Evie and Edmund and really disliking Jax. I found the whole search from Evie's mom to be a little weird but it kind of goes away for a lot of the story so I won't focu on that too much. I think the things holding me back from anything above a 3 are Preston, the whole Huck Finn-like switch in story, and the Evie/Edmund scene near the end.
1. Preston - I hated how the author started to push him into liking Evie halfway through the book. It felt way too forced and made me start to dislike his character more and more every time he tried something with Evie.
2.The Switch - Just like in Huck Finn, the author switches from a story that is versatile in setting and characters to one that is stale with them. This book goes from Evie's college experience and all the people in it to her at her boring grandmother's place with only her grandmother and her butler.
3.The Evie/Edmund Scene - I hate when authors use sex as a plot device, especially in YA books and when the characters haven't even been married or together very long. It's extremely unnecessary and frustrates me to no end.
Okay, now that I've spent a little time sharing what I've disliked about this one, I'd like to share what I did enjoy. I loved the romance (YA Royalty plots! <3) and the visuals this book gave me. My favorite was Edmund's ski chateau. The image I got in my mind was the most beautiful and exquisite place and I really loved spending time there.
I really liked this one but a combo of the three things I mentioned above just killed any rating above a 3 for me.