Friday, January 15, 2016

I am Princess X by Cherie Priest

Gone is the traditional princess in a pretty dress waiting for Prince Charming to save her.  I am Princess X features a modern day princess of mixed blood with red Chucks and a katana with a story that joins the growing trend of princess stories with interesting twists and strong female leads who play a part in the action.
This contemporary fantasy is part suspense and cyber thriller with a story within a story in comic strip style.  Libby and May have been best friends since elementary school, bonding over a character they created together—Princess X.  Libby died in a car accident a few years later, and May’s life changed drastically with her own parents separating.  The story and mystery start three years after Libby’s death when May returns to Seattle to stay with her dad.  She sees Princess X stickers and discovers a web comic about Princess X.  It features the same Princess X the girls created together, but it is set before their stories.  The comic contains scary parallels to Libby’s death, suggesting murder and a fiendish plot.  May becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth behind Libby’s death and the web comic, following the possible clues from the comic scavenger hunt-style.

The story is straightforward with May following the clues, and the pacing is quick with enough tension and suspense to wonder what happens next.  Priest gives the setting of Seattle a distinct feel with broke teens travelling by bus and on foot to investigate the mystery.  It makes the story more relevant how she incorporates technology and social media, relying on those to carry the plot.  The web comic’s fantasy themes make difficult topics more accessible by seeming to be fiction, and it is one of the driving forces that make this story work.  Priest focuses on the importance of friendship and the help of friends.  Much of the story is carried with assistance from friends, so it is not another lone hero saving the day.  Even with the story’s fantasy elements, it is still set in the real world, and the other characters are as necessary as the hero. 

Look for I am Princess X in the VBPL Catalog.  Cherie Priest also writes steampunk, horror, and fantasy for adults.  Try Antonia Michaelis’ The Storyteller for another story within a story that mashes fantasy with reality (see review).  E.C. Myers’ Silence of Six is another teen cyber thriller (see review).  Marisa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, R.C. Lewis’ Stitching Snow, and Betsy Cornwell’s Mechanica gives the traditional fairy tale princess image a makeover with contemporary sentiments and unusual fantasy setting.

Review by Tracy V.

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