Posts Tagged ‘rachael reads’

Rachael Reads: I am Princess X

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

I Am Princess X, is another of my treasures from Phoenix Comicon 2015. The author, Cherie Priest was a guest of the convention and appeared on several panels. Regrettably my schedule did not allow me the opportunity to meet her, but that’s where I first learned about her work.

 

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Title: I Am Princess X

Author: Cherie Priest

ISBN: 978-0-545-62085-7

My Rating: FINAL_RR_Reads_GenV_060915_2 (4/5 stars)

Fate brings together Libby and May when they’re sidelined from 5th grade gym class. In order to pass the time the two girls collaborate on a comic book character they name Princess X and in their shared creation they become best friends. A few years later Libby disappears in an apparent auto accident and is presumed dead. All of the Princess X drawings are lost and May never expects to see Libby or their Princess ever again. But then one day May does see Princess X – in printed stickers and street graffiti. Nobody else knows about Princess X, so May wonders who might be behind her reappearance. Could there be more to Libby’s disappearance than she knows? Can May piece together clues to find out what really happened on the night Libby was lost?

The art and format of this graphic novel/prose hybrid roused my interest first and the dust jacket synopsis ensured my purchase. The snippets of comic art imbedded in chapters throughout the novel are brilliantly executed. These panels heighten visual interest and support the story by building suspense and intrigue for the reader. The transitions from text to drawings and back encourage organic pauses to study clues and weave together threads of the mystery. Sometimes I stopped to ponder the art and the subtext and other times I greedily attacked the words following a comic panel to find the answer to a clue spelled out right away.

There is so much to adore about I Am Princess X, beginning with the nature of the girls’ friendship. Libby and May forged a friendship build on creativity, collaboration, and respect without competition or frenemy drama. They never gossiped behind each other’s back or fought over a boy, and even as kids they seemed to realize the preciousness of their friendship. While I would love to peek in on their early birthday celebrations, sleepovers, and summer fun, I agree with the author’s decision to maintain a pace that builds momentum and keeps the story engaging for her target audience of young adults.

The characters in I Am Princess X are not as complex as you might find in a longer, more developed book. Once the players are established and the action begins, the story unfolds over a matter of days. Characters are developed enough to invoke our compassion, but there’s no time for more given how quickly the plot moves. I love that important ethnically diverse and LGBT characters exist in this book and the author doesn’t make a big deal about it. Libby is bi-racial and even though that fact is important to the story it is not lingered upon. Jackdaw is gay but this isn’t the story of his romantic life so it doesn’t come to the forefront. Characters have unique traits that inform their personalities but don’t define them. The author’s respect for diversity extends to gender roles as well. I love that girls and women in this book unflinchingly do what has been labeled masculine in the past. The Director of IT for Trick’s school district is a woman. May and Libby love comics and they create Princess X for its own sake – nobody is “into comics” because they’re trying to impress a boy with how cool they are. Priest lets the characters be who they are and celebrates their differences with finesse.

This is a quick, fun read. I started this book on a Friday afternoon and reluctantly put it down because I had plans for Friday night. Saturday morning I picked it up again and polished it off before Noon. There are parts where the story is linear and I figured out the mystery before it was revealed, but I’m alright with that. This is a novel to enjoy for what it is: the celebration of love between best friends and a page-turner mystery. Go out and buy this book because it is good fun and because we need more like this in our reading lives.

Before I finish this review, I have a confession. I nearly missed out on this fun, unique graphic/novel hybrid because I bear an anti-steampunk prejudice. Cherie Priest is known for her Clockwork Century series of steampunk adventure stories and for that reason I might easily have bypassed her work. After all, I have a pretty epic to be read (TBR) list and, frankly, steampunk is not my jam. I don’t understand it and that’s probably why I don’t appreciate it. (I suppose that is true of most of our prejudicial feelings.) Sometimes I think maybe I should be into steampunk. Browsing online photos posted by former Goth kids with whom I rubbed fishnet-clad elbows in the mid-1990’s, I see corsets and clockworks in abundance. The genre doesn’t resonate with me at all though. It feels forced and I’m put off by the drab-colored Victorian fashions, obligatory brass monocles, and cog-and-gear embellishments on absolutely everything. Probably my least favorite steampunk components are the innumerable leather helmet/stylized aviator goggle combos; some say iconic, I say cliché. I do not take this position to offend aficionados or to blow the steam from their contraptions, but rather to illustrate that when we allow preconceptions about genre to influence what we are willing to read, we risk missing exceptionally good books. Books like I Am Princess X, for example.

Have you read I Am Princess X? Maybe you love some of Cherie Priest’s other work? Maybe you have a sweet piece of steampunk fiction that might turn it all around for me.  If so, sound off of the comments below or connect with me on goodreads. I’d love the chance to talk books with you

Happy Reading!

Rachael Reads: Generation V

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading lately and wanted to share some of my favorites with you. I would love for this to be a semi-regular feature where we can discuss what’s good in the world of books and reading. If you like what you see here, I’m active on goodreads and would love to be “friends” there too. Maybe you have a favorite book you would like to recommend? Let me know in the comments and you may see it in a future Rachael Reads.

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Title: Generation V

Author: ML Brennan

ISBN: 978-0-451-41840-1

My Rating: FINAL_RR_Reads_GenV_060915_2 (4/5 stars)

Fortitude Scott isn’t Count Dracula, Edward Cullen or Eric Northman. In fact, he’s more like me and you because he is still mostly human. In Generation V, ML Brennan creates a unique take on vampire mythology and the reader has to throw away old notions of coffins, capes, and wooden stakes to see the Scott family as they are, but this story is so well-told that it is easy to set aside those old tales.

Fort is fighting to maintain independence and humanity in spite of his vampire heritage. He’s struggling with the troubles of a recent college grad with bills to pay and no serious job prospects. His day job sucks, his bank account is empty, his roommate is a slouch, his girlfriend is cheating on him and he’s more than a little bit Emo about his situation. When a strange vampire visits his mother’s territory and starts to prey on little girls, Fort becomes the unlikely hero to defend the lost girls. Unfortunately Fort has more moral strength than physical strength and he needs the help of Suzume, a shape-shifting body guard hired by his mother to protect him from unfriendly vamps. The relationship between them is tense from the start. Is Suzume is in it for the cash alone? Will she split when the stakes get too high? Fort is driven to do what’s right even if he has to do it alone and even if it kills him.

Anyone who’s ever had a bad job or suffered parental disapproval will like Fort from page one. The relationship between Fort and Suzume has all the right pieces – tenuous trust, a shared goal, and romantic tension. While the main character is male, it is refreshing to see well-rounded and well written female characters in vampire fiction. There are no one-note caricatures of women or buxom bimbos waiting to be swept away by dark, brooding vampire lovers in this book. The women in Brennan’s novel are capable and confident. They are self-aware and self-confident instead of self-conscious and unsure. Brennan’s female characters know their value and they hold the majority of the power in their world. Generation V is a fun, quick read with both lovable and detestable characters, a unique take on vampire mythology, and a page-turning plot. I’m looking forward to the next in the series, Iron Night.