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Paper Princess: A Novel (The Royals) Paperback – April 4, 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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About the Author
Erin Watt is the brainchild of two bestselling authors linked together through their love of great books and an addiction to writing. They share one creative imagination. Their greatest love (after their families and pets, of course)? Coming up with fun―and sometimes crazy―ideas. Their greatest fear? Breaking up.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
“Ella, you’re wanted in the principal’s office,” Ms. Weir says before I can step inside the Precalculus classroom.
I check my watch. “I’m not even late.”
It’s one minute before nine and this watch is never wrong. It’s probably the most expensive item I own. My mom said that it was my dad’s. Besides his sperm, it’s the only thing he left behind.
“No, it’s not about tardiness…this time.” Her normally flinty gaze is soft around the edges, and my gut relays a warning to my sluggish morning brain. Ms. Weir is a hard ass, which is why I like her. She treats her students like we’re here to learn about actual math instead of some life lesson on loving your neighbor and crap like that. So for her to be giving me sympathetic looks means something bad is cooking down at the principal’s office.
She should save her sympathy for Justin Slade, the captain of the football team, who is unironically sticking his tongue between his fingers and waggling the wormlike thing at me. He bragged about his tongue the day we’d met, when he cornered me in the hallway, informed me I was hot, and graciously offered to give me the best sex of my life. I’d said thanks, but no thanks.
Since then he’s been hounding me to reconsider, but it doesn’t matter, because I won’t have to deal with him for much longer. He’s going to college next year and will be in for a sore surprise when he realizes the best days of his life were in high school. His pathetic attempt at mocking me doesn’t deserve acknowledgement.
“Fine.” It’s not like I can give any other response. I offer a nod and redirect myself to the school office.
“I’ll email you the course assignment,” Ms. Weir calls after me.
Again with the sympathy. I should be worried. The implication behind her statement is that I won’t be returning to class, but there’s nothing Principal Thompson has to say that could faze me.
Before enrolling in George Washington High School for my junior year, I had already lost everything of importance. There isn’t anything else anyone can take from me.
Even if Mr. Thompson has somehow found out I’m not technically living in the GW school district I can think of some lie to stall for time, and if I have to transfer, which is the worst thing that could happen to me today, then I’ll do it.
If he brings up the fact that my mother is a stripper? Well, I’ll call him a liar and remind him that having a stripper for a mother isn’t grounds for suspension or dismissal.
“How’s it going, Darlene?”
The mom-haired school secretary barely looks up from her People magazine. “Take a seat, Ella. Mr. Thompson will be right with you.”
Yep, we’re on a first-name basis, me and Darlene. One month at GW High and I’ve already spent way too much time in this office, thanks to my ever-growing stack of late slips. But that’s what happens when you work nights and don’t see the smooth side of the sheets until three a.m. every night.
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I actually interrupted another book to read this one, and I'm still not sure why. It's not even in my normal genre preference. I just remember reading the summary, seeing the cover, and thinking "I'd like to read that." Ella Harper was an interesting main character, full of spirit, and she led her story well. The writing was even pretty decent for the first 2/3rd of the book.
Call me old-fashioned, when we decide "attempted date rape" is the best catalyst for getting the two leads to hook up, the story stops being enjoyable. Now, the male lead, Reed Royal, did not actually attempt the date rape, but when Ella is drugged and the Royal brothers save her, how is the natural conclusion "Someone is gonna need to 'help' her with her drug-induced horniness." Sorry, what? WHAT? So maybe Reed Royal didn't attempt the date rape, but he's 1000000% guilty of engaging in dubious consent.
"I feel like I'm taking advantage of you."
Yes, Reed, because you are! Ella is high on a date-rape cocktail, and you're like "Well, but she said she was okay with me 'helping' her, so..." This isn't even the only incident like this in the story. At one point Reed actually *propositions* her while they're out yachting, saying that she's a dirty whore but he'll take care of her sexual needs as long as she doesn't touch the rest of his family. Ella's second morning in the household, two of her new "brothers" joke about raping her. To Ella's credit, she does point out to the readers "Sexual assault isn't about getting laid. It's about power.", indicating they don't need to use sex to have power over her.
Ella's actually very good about playing it smart. It's something that made her extremely likeable as a character. (Up until sex was involved, and suddenly she can't think at all.) She knows a handsome face doesn't make someone a good person. Ella gets the difference between what her body wants and what her mind wants. She knows the value of education as a means to rise above poor circumstances. Ella Harper has lots of qualities that make her a great main character.
Remember when I said the writing was good for the first 2/3rds of the book and was not Young Adult? The last third of this book read like a smutty magazine you'd find under a mattress. Nevermind that Ella was smart and self-sufficient. Once she and Reed hook up, it's like sex-sex-sex all the time on her brain. She can barely look at Reed without wanting to get busy with him, and the book goes into GRAPHIC detail about their sexual encounters. Look, bedroom doors were invented for a reason. These are 17-year olds. I don't need to hear all the gory details of whose fingers are going where. ...I'm gonna say it again for good measure: SEVENTEEN-YEAR OLDS.
It's a shame that I power read through the first 2/3 so quickly because the story was engaging, yet it's the uglier remaining third that's leaving such an imprint on my mind. The first part of the book actually had a good premise, familiar but solid. Poor girl with nothing gets plucked from obscurity into a life of riches. I didn't even take issue with the idea that she was stripping when we first meet her, because she's doing it to survive. Can't fault someone for surviving, and she's smart about her work, putting her safety and schooling first. I actually had to pause around page 55 and split a side from laughing. "Four boys who rule the school, and their decree sets the law for how poor-girl Ella will be treated." I've seen this premise before, and lemme tell ya, I LOVE Hana Yori Dango. Downside? The boys in HYD weren't such *complete* a-holes, unlike the Royals, and they actually learned and grew from their experiences in the story. The only redeemable character in this bunch is Easton. He's the only one that makes up for his initial behavior and makes an attempt to be better with Ella. I see so many reviews for this story chittering on about how great all the boys are and I'm like "...Seriously?" Either their standards for men are terrible, or mine are too high. Maybe both? Easton was sweet, Gideon was neutral, and the other three were like "Please go to other side of your mansion house and never interact with Ella again, thank you."
There was ONE saving grace of the distasteful sexual content that I feel warrants a shout out. Mean Girl Savannah, one of Ella's arch nemeses, takes the time to warn her of her potential date rapist (albiet too cryptically for Ella to get it). "Look, I don't like you much, but I wouldn't let even my worst enemy be sucked in by him." She put aside all her issues with Ella to warn her. I 100% support girls looking out for other girls. More of this in the book and less of the boot knocking, and this might have been the story I hoped it was going to be.
I debated with myself at some length whether to round up or down for my site rating. The book was a solid 2.5 stars for me. The book had plenty of enjoyable material (round up), but it also had some really sketchy content (round down). Ultimately I had to ask myself "How much do I want other people reading this story? So I'm rounding down. I hate the idea of a young impressionable girl looking for a proper Young Adult book to find this one instead. Hell, I wouldn't even want a young boy to read this and get any ideas. I feel it's almost my responsibility to do what I can to discourage them both.
We have a heroine who has had to strip to make ends meet when her mother is dying of cancer and this haunts her through the story. She's constantly called a w*&%e when she is actually a virgin. Her attraction to Reed absolutely mystifies me as the kid is a bona-fide di*khead and a misogynistic spoiled brat.
The father is oblivious to his sons' lives and this is all supposed to be okay because they're all in mourning for his late wife - their mother. The story just got boring and repetitive with our heroine trying to resist her own developing sexual urges amongst a pack of boy-guys who are horrid examples of the men they are becoming.
Why do stories like this sell like mad?
Yet after finishing the book, I can't help but feel worried about what society is teaching children nowadays. The book is about high school kids, so I assume that is the target audience, yet the entire book is completely inappropriate for this age group. Whether or not the book adheres to the reality of teenagers or is gravely exaggerated, is beside the point; its plot, language and amount of sex is alarming even for adult readers. Not only are the sex scenes graphic and explicitly detailed, they are bordering on ridiculous and lack any fundamental relationship between characters involved.
I strongly encourage anybody considering buying this book for a teenager or even a young adult, to read it first, you'll be very surprised by what you read, and am confident there are many better options for the age group.
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