I picked this book up because I wanted to read something that didn’t require me to think too much, and I was browsing the YA shelves at the time, and this book had a nice cover, and I had a giftcard and could afford to blow money on random book purchases, and this is the author’s first novel, a stand-alone novel, at that, as in, one that isn’t part of an eleven book series with supplementary literature.
So, without further ado, The False Princess, the kind of book Gef reads when she doesn’t want to think too much.
The False Princess is the story of Nalia, the sixteen year-old heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Thorvaldor, or so she thinks. It turns out that Nalia is nothing but a replacement for the true princess, who has been hidden away to avert a prophecy that says she will be murdered before her sixteenth birthday.
Her “duty” to the crown thus fulfilled, Nalia–now called Sinda–is cast out of the palace and sent to live as a simple village girl with her only living relative. However, when she discovers that long suppressed magic runs through her veins, she has little choice but to return to the city, where she uncovers a shocking secret that could turn the kingdom upside down. But how far will Sinda go to save the kingdom that betrayed her?
You might imagine that this book is a typical rags-to-riches tale (or riches-to-rags, in this case) which is sort of the case, but not really. While Sinda does end up trading the privileged life of a princess to become the niece of a dyemaker, she’s not the stuck up royal pain in the ass that you might expect, nor does she stay in that state for very long. I know what you’re thinking: “She discovers she has magic and she goes to study at the badass wizarding school they have, right? This book turns into Harry Potter?” and, no, she doesn’t do that either. In fact, there’s a bit of class commentary tied up in gaining admission to study magic: you need to be a noble, so if you happen to be poor and brimming with magic (which is inherited and pretty dangerous if not controlled) you are in deep shit. This is also reflected in how the king and queen deal with Sinda once they know longer need her: she’s discarded, left with a bit of gold, but discarded.
This novel was not supposed to make me think. On to the floofy parts.
Some other things I liked about this book was the fact that there was really only one clear love interest. Oh, sure, O’Neal teases us with a typical love triangle that crops up in YA the way the cold virus has been cropping up inside me lately, but it’s epicly squashed in chapter five. This was very refreshing, because I’m sick to death of love triangles, and I learned a few things about polyamorous relationships the other day, and I think there are many, many, many relationships I’ve read about over the years that could be solved by better “wiring”, if you know what I mean. Consider this a plea for more characters who are willing to give open relationships a try, says the monogamous lesbian.
Anyways, I’m really digressing here. The other thing I liked about this book was that I genuinely did not see one of the plot twists coming, and I can usually spot a plot twist a mile away. There were a couple I did see, but there was one point where I had to do a double take.
Now for the not-so-great, so, yes, the characters are cliche, we have the brainy lead character who isn’t really princess material (that’s how you know she’s not the real princess, natch), the wisecracking love interest, the obligatory eccentric wizard mentor (because who doesn’t like eccentric wizards?) and the antagonist who is somewhat sympathetic until you remember that they kicked a whole lot of puppies to get where they are. Yay. The writing is kind of meh, there are places where it’s bad (I caught a couple of spelling errors that shouldn’t have escaped an editor) and places where it’s decent, but, as usual, it’s not the worst I’ve seen ( in case I haven’t mentioned it, I’ve read the first three Twilight books, and Fifty Shades of Abuse Masquerading as BDSM) but it’s far from the best. Then again, this is a first novel, and writing styles do improve. I used to write awful fanfiction on fanfiction.net, it’s awful. I like to think I’ve improved….a little.
So, yeah, it’s generic, it’s nothing to write home about, but that’s kind of why I bought it. Anyways, as far as a recommendation goes, if you’re like me and you want a generic fantasy that doesn’t require you to use a lot of brain power and can stand a trip to the YA section, eh, give this a look. Get it from the library, maybe? Libraries are amazing.
And that’s one more from my Big Pile o’ Books, creeping ever closer to that money I’ve buried under the pile. Then, and only then, may I purchase a new book for myself.
This is not as easy as it sounds, but I’m doing it.