& Review: I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest. YA Fiction. Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books.

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest. YA Fiction. Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books.

The Book Itself: Awesome cover! A real visual of the entire Princess X herself, and the wanted poster style for the title and author makes it intriguing – why is a cartoon on a wanted poster? What mysteries is the reader getting into here?

My Review: Best friends, big fans, a mysterious webcomic, and a long-lost girl collide in this riveting novel, perfect for fans of both Cory Doctorow and Sarah Dessen; illustrated throughout with comics.

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 IAmPrincessX.com. 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.

Some (okay, a lot) of YA books require you to suspend your disbelief. This is regular old YA fiction, so it’s supposed to be real world events (so, no interstellar travel or Hunger Games-like dystopian settings). In the real world setting of I Am Princess X, however, May is sent on a real-life scavenger hunt to find her best friend. Who didn’t die horrifically in a car crash/drowning incident like she thought she did. No, she was kidnapped and kept hostage by a psychopath. No big deal.

So…I’ll ignore temporarily that May didn’t know Princess X the webcomic existed. Even though it’s supposed to be a big online phenomenon and May seems like a typically connected teenager with social media accounts and a laptop and everything. I do find it tough to swallow that Princess X exists and it didn’t raise any red flags for anyone else. It’s very clearly based on some real-world terrible stuff. You can turn the teenage girl into a princess and rename her friends and family (the Needle Man? Come on, that’s creepy as all heck). But I’d think someone would look into that webcomic. Make sure everyone involved is all right.

Then I have to suspend my disbelief that May goes on this real world scavenger hunt (that no one else picked up on, even though a lot of the clues are landmarks in Seattle), and really bad people start hunting her down and she doesn’t ever seek help from, you know, responsible, helpful adults. It’s just her and another teenager against the world. And they’re woefully unprepared, and a tad stupid about it.

It’s not an incredibly well developed story arc. It gets interruptions from excerpts from the actual Princess X comic. Which seem cool: it’s a novel and graphic novel all in one! But we skip around in that story, too. We miss a lot in between, so it’s not consistent. I almost feel as if the excerpts shouldn’t be included! Even though they were one of the main reasons I flipped through and then decided to buy the book!

It’s certainly got a healthy dose of suspense. It’s unbelievable in the literal sense, but it’s a nice, neat package in the end. It’s made interesting with the Princess X comics, but I’ve read better done mysteries.

My Grade: C-

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