I have a backlog of shorter reviews, and you guys know how I like to make connections between my books. So I thought I'd put two reviews together into one post - voila!
The pairing this week is self-explanatory. It's all in the title. But these books are not to be confused. They are very different, and I liked one much more than the other.
The False Princess
by Eillis O'Neal
Read: September 2011
Published: January 25, 2011 by EgmontUSA
Source: Library book
Category: YA - Fantasy
Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia has led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when she learns, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city, her best friend, Kiernan, and the only life she’s ever known.
Sent to live with her only surviving relative—a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece—Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. Then she discovers that magic runs through her veins—long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control—and she realizes that she will never learn to be just a simple village girl.
Sinda returns to the city to seek answers. Instead, she rediscovers the boy who refused to forsake her, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor’s history forever.
To be fair, there isn't really anything major that I disliked about The False Princess. I read the book and thought it was okay. But if I'm being honest, it bored me in places. There was too much thinking and planning and not enough action. I thought that it took too much time to move the characters from one place to another, which made the plot feel like it was plodding along at times. It’s not that I need dramatic scenes everywhere (and sometimes I like a quiet book - see previous review), so I'm not sure what didn't work for me about this one. Maybe it's that I was expecting something different in a fantasy story.
Also, Sinda and Kiernan came across rather young to me. I know they’ve been friends since childhood, but there was a huge disconnect for me in their progression from friendship to love. I wanted to sense the change, even in subtle ways. But I just didn't feel it.
I do like this cover though.
Love Triangle Factor: Mild
Rating: 2.5 stars
The False Prince
by Jennifer A. Neilsen
Read: May 24-25, 2012
Published: April 1, 2012 by Scholastic
Source: Library book
Category: YA - Fantasy
THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
Despite the two downfalls of (1) a cover that looks like it was created in clip art, and (2) sharing an almost identical title to The False Princess, which I liked less than half as much, The False Prince is an EXCELLENT book.
I have a soft spot for middle-grade fantasy books starring boys, and Sage is right up there for me with Percy and Harry. Although this story is high fantasy - it takes place in a different world/kingdom - it doesn't involve magic, which was actually a relief for me. Though I do love the paranormal, I just happened to think that this story works better without its added complication.
In The False Prince, Sage is an orphaned street urchin who gets caught up in a plot to take the throne. He's charming, mischievous, clever and only 14. (Makes me feel old and unaccomplished.) Although he doesn't always make the best decisions, he's brave and compassionate, especially, to the less fortunate. This made me want to root for him even more. Schemes and intrigue abound, and this book had me hooked from start to finish. I can't wait for the next one.
Sage is by far the character who stands out the most in this story. I actually wish that a few others were a bit more memorable than they were written. But there are some secondary characters that I really liked, including one that I suspect will be the story's love interest for Sage. Though there's no romance in this book, only the beginnings of a connection.
Love Triangle Factor: N/A
Rating: 5 stars