Saturday, January 7, 2012

Review: The Wide-Awake Princess - E. D. Baker

The Wide-Awake Princess by E. D. Baker
Series: Wide-Awake Princess #1
Genre: Middle Grade, fairy tale retelling, comedy
Published on May 11, 2010
Published by Bloomsbury
Pages: 261
Read From: 12.20.11 - 12.21.11

When Princess Gwen (otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty) pricks her finger and sends herself and the whole castle to sleep for one hundred years, only her younger sister, Annie, is left awake. And only Annie - blessed (and cursed) with being resistant to magic - can venture beyond the rose-covered hedge to get help. She must find Gwen's true love to kiss her awake. 
But what about the one hundred years? And who is Gwen's true love? Her irritating suitor, Digby? The happy-go-lucky prince Andreas, who is holding a contest to find his bride? The conniving Clarence, whose evil motives couldn't possible spell true love? 
Joined by Liam, one of her father's guards, Annie travels through a fairy-tale land populated with characters both familiar and new as she tries to find the prince to rescue her sister. . . .and perhaps even discover a true love of her own.


This was not my favorite fairy tale re-telling. I liked it - don't get me wrong. But compared to other re-tellings, this was not the wittiest nor the most entertaining out of them all. Complaints? Well, for one thing, it ought to have been a first-person narration. I cannot exactly give concise reasons as to why I felt this, but it seems to me that Gwen's wit would have been more reflective of her character - and, indeed, made the book funnier - if it had been told her own words. Gwen is a character who was born to be a narrator; give her that chance!

While I realize that The Wide-Awake Princess is intended for younger teens, the writing still seemed rather juvenile. When one is writing to a younger audience, one should not, for lack of a better word, dumb one's writing style down to the audience; one should only consider what sort of content is appropriate for the desired age range. Trust your audience's intellect; don't write down to them. It is, frankly, insulting when Authors do this - I always found it so.

Also, when adding fairy tales into Gwen's world, such events seemed to have no real bearing on the story. It was painfully evident that Gwen encountered these things because the Author wanted to add other fairy tales into the story; in other words, they were events which occurred for the sole purpose of having events occur. And the fairy tales were not very well disguised. The first example that pops to mind was Gwen's run-in with the Hansel and Gretel story. It was a rather sudden occurrence and kind of just happened and then was over. Perhaps it was the choppy, "oh, by the way, doesn't this sound familiar?" style that made such events feel so unnecessary and planted there just for laughs. But the most response it elicited from me was a roll of the eyes and a slight chuckle over a few parts where it actually began to get clever.

While these shortcomings affect the storyline pretty heavily, the characters are good and for those who are good at seeing the potential in basically good ideas - Readers who can peel back the displeasing layers, - these things will save the story for them. The ending is, granted, rather abrupt and seems to beg for a sequel, yet at the same time doesn't, but The Wide-Awake Princess had its good moments, and it tried to live up to the high standards set by other re-tellings. And for that reason alone, I can like this book.

Others in This Series:
1)The Wide-Awake Princess
2)Unlocking the Spell

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