Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book Review: The False Prince -- Jennifer A. Nielsen

                Like Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, this book promptly went from my reading stack to my little brother’s.
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.
                The narrator, Sage, was the best part of this book. His voice was not only funny, but unique; he’s usually a step ahead of all the other characters, and the reader. He keeps secrets, from them and us. He threads us along in the best of ways, parceling out info on himself a bit at a time, never really lying to us, but surprising us all the same. Sage is a master of omission.
                He’s a likable character, who’ll have you rooting for him from the very start. And yet, in my opinion, things sometimes came a bit too easily for him. Some minor characters favored him (and started helping him) almost immediately, but the ‘why’ was never fleshed out as much as I’d have liked.
                One other thing: If the back-of-the-book summary has you expecting diligent etiquette/fencing/horse-back-riding/book-learnin’ PRINCE lessons… Well. They’re there, but the participants aren’t so diligent.
Considering they’re training to convince a kingdom that they’re a lost prince, and competing with other boys who have the same goal, and facing death if they fail, sometimes they don’t take it that seriously. There are a few instances of them being kept from their lessons by the one orchestrating the whole thing.
I’m not saying I’d have loved fifty pages detailing royal table settings. But the way the lessons are treated in this book struck me as a teensy bit implausible; even the lessons we see are mostly skimmed over. It’s as if they’re present because we expect them to be present, yet they aren’t really necessary.
Bottom line… If you’re looking for something reminiscent of the “I Can Learn to Do It” number in the Anastasia movie, this may not live up to your expectations.
Still. Sage is a fun narrator, and his antics and schemes and occasionally-noble nature were more than enough to make me pass The False Prince on to my brother.
For everything else, there’s Youtube.
 *clicks around on Youtube* ... For everything except the version with the actual clip, I guess. -_- BUT YOU ALL KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.

If you’ve read The False Prince, what did you think? And what are you reading now?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Put Down the Swords & Spaceships: Reading Outside Your Comfort Zone

*is slapped by an assortment of things*

Laptop difficulties = Drastic drop in productivity. Moving on.

Less than a month from today, I will be starting college (which, by the way, may lead to another drop in productivity. -_-)

Once I get to college, I'll be starting my first college English class there, and a few weeks ago I got a postcard informing me that the sunday before classes, the students in this English class would meet to discuss a book that we would read over the summer--

Me: Forcing me to read some boring memoir instead of all the pretties on my shelves? UGH...

--while chatting and getting to know each other and eating desserts.


So I got the book. The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls. And for a while it sat on the desk next to my notebooks and stacks of manga, because I was fairly sure I wasn't going to like it, and I had other things to read--things with magic, and knights, and dystopian societies, and gizmos, etc. etc. etc.

I am a YA scifi/fantasy nut. It's what I write, and it's what I love to read. I've diverged a bit here and there, but all in all I haven't branched out and read outside that genre very much, which of course blatantly disregards all e-advice to the contrary.

I've heard so many authors say "Read, read, read. All the time. ALL the books."

But sometimes my gut response is, "There are so many books in my genre to read. I don't have time for anything else."

I got time to read The Glass Castle the day the kid I tutor played hookey. I pulled it out and started reading at the kitchen table, half expecting the aforementioned kid to walk through the door.

...and I read.
...and I read.
...and I read.

Until, for the first time in a long while, I'd finished a book in one day. In one sitting. I could not put it down.

It was strange, and good, and well-written, and interesting, and not what I expected, but fascinating. And true.

And not a witch or wizard in sight.

It is important to read outside your genre, whether it's as a break from what you've gotten used to, or just a really, really good book. I hope to branch out more in college, and I can't wait to have that discussion with my fellow classmates.

What have you been reading? What do you usually read, and when was the last time you read something vastly different?

And how have you been, guys? I missed you.