Thursday, June 28, 2012

Review: The False Prince - Jennifer A. Nielsen

The False Prince
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Middle Grade
Read From: June 11, 2012 - June 13, 2012

Cover Blurb: I actually really, really like it. I love the blue and the broken crown; it communicates a lot about the story. And of course the title’s font is big and bold and gold, and that’s always attention-grabbing.

What I Liked: Sage is sarcastic and cheeky without having an attitude. When he said something snarky, I pictured him saying it completely straight-faced, without a hint of humor in his voice. He’d be one of those people that if you didn’t know sarcasm, you wouldn’t be sure if he was serious or pulling your leg. And I loved his realism and perceptiveness. I would be skeptical of any other character who figured out what was really going on as soon as he did, but with Sage it was somehow totally believable that he knew. The other characters were a good mixture of different personalities, and their interactions were interesting. The whole setup for the story, too, was very intriguing, and the twist was excellent. And I loved the lack of magic! There was absolutely no magic!

What I Disliked: My main complaints go under Writing Style, so the only complaint I will put here is a very, very minor one: I always associate the name “Sage” with a female character.

Believability: I can’t say too much here because all of the believability has to do with the twist, and I don’t want to give that away. All I can really say is, if everything happened the way it did in the book, then I could see something like that actually happening. The Author also did a good job in portraying physical injuries.

Writing Style: The style itself was pleasant enough. The flaw lies in some of the plot executions. A friend (Hazel) and I had a fairly long discussion about this particular topic, and I will refer to some of the things she said. One of the things that Hazel didn’t particular like was how Sage was constantly pulling things out that he had stolen, and the Reader didn’t even get to “witness” the theft. This actually didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. Most of the things Sage steals - money, a dagger - are minor things that, if the Author had related their theft, would cause the Reader to wonder why that was important. When Sage pulls the things out of his pocket, he explains where he got them, and I personally think that that was the smoothest way the Author could insert his thefts. There are two particular thefts, though, that I think the Reader ought to have been privy to: when Sage takes back his fool’s gold, since this little incident causes the relationships between the characters to change dramatically; and when Sage retrieves a particular sword. Given the importance of these two objects, the Reader definitely ought to have “witnessed” their retrievals. My friend also felt that as the protagonist - and narrator, - Sage kept far too many secrets from the Reader. I’m divided on this issue (and sadly, I cannot be explicit, since this concerns the story’s twist). On one hand, the narrator really oughtn’t keep so many secrets from the Reader. But on the other, this particular twist has been done so many times that it was nice to be kept in the dark as thoroughly and as long as we were. I think, though, that the Author could have given a few more hints, so that the Reader didn’t feel so left out, but it still might have come as a surprise. The revelation was a bit sloppy and could have used some work; that I definitely agree on. But it’s still a good twist, and while I guessed it easily (I was on the lookout for it), it’s still satisfying and won’t be as apparent to some people as it was perhaps me, because some people won’t have a friend who has already read the book.

Content: Nothing to complain about.

Conclusion: Obviously there will be a sequel - it’s a trilogy, after all. As a whole, the conclusion was satisfying, the villains get what they deserve, and as I said earlier, the twist is good. I liked that while everyone else had plans for Sage, he had his own secret plan, and he was able to carry it out in full, completely pulling the rug out from under the feet of all those conniving jerks. Sage is going to be a very satisfying protagonist for the rest of the trilogy.

Recommended Audience: There isn’t a single person I wouldn’t recommend this book to. It’s a girl and guy read, all ages would enjoy it, and since it neither falls in the fantasy nor the historical fiction category - or romance, for that matter, - I think anyone would enjoy it.

Others in The Ascendance Trilogy:
1)The False Prince
2)The Runaway King

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