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I Am Princess X Paperback – April 26, 2016
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—May and Libby created Princess X on the day they met in fifth grade. That was before Libby and her mother died in a car crash. Now May is 16 and looking at another long, lonely summer in Seattle when she spots a Princess X sticker on the corner of a store window. Suddenly she starts seeing Princess X everywhere, including in a webcomic at IAmPrincessX.com, where the princess story is eerily similar to Libby's. This means that the only person who could have created the comic is May's best friend—Libby—who must still be alive. In her YA debut, Priest offers a tantalizing, page-turner of a mystery that spans real locations in Seattle and dark pockets of the Internet. May is an assertive, capable heroine who finds help from likable and well-realized characters along the way in this fresh and authentic story. Even when the action moves online, Priest keeps the story exciting and approachable without ever resorting to technical jargon. Accompanying illustrations by Ciesemier bring the story found in the webcomic to life and integrate beautifully with May's search for Libby in this utterly satisfying read. VERDICT An excellent book with loads of cross-genre and cross-format appeal. Highly recommended.—Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
*"Priest's YA debut is an engrossing cyberthriller packed with a puzzling mystery, crackerjack detective work, and an eerie, atmospheric sense of place. Teens who roll their eyes at adults out of touch with Internet culture will eat this up." -- Booklist, starred review
*"An excellent book with loads of cross-genre and cross-format appeal. Highly recommended." -- School Library Journal, starred review
*"Fresh and contemporary, this hybrid novel/comic packs a lot of plot in a relatively short book, but its strongest suit may be Priest's keen understanding of the chasmic gap between the way teens and adults engage in the landscape of the Internet." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
Top customer reviews
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I had a major issue with this book which I think is due to it's hybrid nature. Unlike the vast majority of the reviewers who have already posted, I read the the e-book version, complete with the full accompanying graphics (which I do think add a lot to the story). Unfortunately, in e-book form, the formatting of the book causes serious issues. The pages are fixed, unlike most e-books where the words on a given page vary depending on font size and screen size. The book acts more like a .pdf than a traditional e-book, and I couldn't find a way to zoom in or out. In my opinion, in e-book form this book is unreadable on anything smaller than a Kindle Fire or Nook, and it isn't great on those. I tried it on three devices, a Kindle Fire HD, a Samsung Galaxy S3 and my PC. The font is so small on the phone that it was completely unreadable for me. The Kindle Fire worked better, but the font was still very difficult to read. The illustrations worked fine though. The most annoying thing was that I went to my PC thinking that the big screen size would make the book very easy to read, only to find that the Kindle for PC program will not display this book, in fact wouldn't even download it. I made do with the Kindle Fire, but it was a painful read. Anyone with a full size tablet should be OK, but anything smaller will probably be an issue.
Beyond that, however, Ms. Priest's first foray into the YA genre is a fun, if light, read. Numerous other reviewers have left summaries of the book, so I will skip that. As a YA book, I think it will work best for readers at the younger end of that scale. I did enjoy it and will pass it on to my 12 and 13 year old daughters.
I am Princess x has some very fun parts going on, with a early childhood friendship serving as a first hook and then what happens to that friendship serving as a close second. Cherie Priest has a great grip on good writing, in that the book sets the stage in act one marvelously. You know whose who and what is what about them and the appropriate emotional connection to the characters to last you to the curtain. Act 2 is where the book really takes off with a hook that will easily last you until the end. When other characters are introduced they are done so in fitting with the theme and premise of the story, instead of throwing in messy additions. Never does Priest include a romance in her book for the sake of added hook or cheap gimmicks, either it belongs or it doesn’t and if it doesn’t then it isn’t in the book.
While Princess X may seem like a straight forward book, there is an interesting recurring theme about society that seems to be going on. There is the forgotten things, the people and history out of sight and out of mind. This comes up with the messages that might be left by a sticker or graffiti or the very ruins of an old city build beneath the thriving one. This extends into the people of the story too as many of the characters are beneath notice, the sort of person your attention slides past and I had no problem seeing this as true for the people in the story. Finally, there is the main antagonist, who you could see as a person, or someone with the resources and funds to affect the world around them, someone who isn’t seen as human extra and thus important. All of this is written beneath the scenes, but yet the entire book seems to call back to these much deeper themes even while the story itself can be read as extremely straight forward.
Another aspect of this story that Priest seemed to take very seriously was the research that went into it. I do not know if Priest herself is interested in the internet and the workings there of but she writes about it well. The callbacks to real life sits like reddit and 4chan feel appropriate and not forced. This isn’t your Sandra Bullock attempt to sound techie in the movie hackers, this is someone who bothered to learn about the thing she was writing about. The same can be said about the history of Seattle. I do not know what exists beneath the streets there, but nothing written about it in this book felt particularly implausible to me.
So should you read I am Princess x? If you’re interested or curious then I would say yes, you probably should. It is shorter than I might of liked, but the book is actually just the right length for what it delves into and for me at least was a very quick read. Usually I like to give critical stuff along with my positive, but there just isn’t anything critical I can say about this one. I read it in a day. Cherie Priest remains one of my favorite authors.
I understand it's for readers age 7 and up, so the plot is dark, but not hauntingly so. I thought this book was great!