“…if comics have taught us anything, it’s that death is rarely a permanent condition.”
Synopsis from Goodreads: Once upon a time, two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the tales, and their heroine, Princess X, slayed all the dragons and scaled all the mountains their imaginations could conjure. Once upon a few years later, Libby was in the car with her mom, driving across the Ballard Bridge on a rainy night. When the car went over the side, Libby passed away, and Princess X died with her. Once upon a now: May is sixteen and lonely, wandering the streets of Seattle, when she sees a sticker slapped in a corner window. Princess X? When May looks around, she sees the Princess everywhere: Stickers. Patches. Graffiti. There’s an entire underground culture, focused around a webcomic at IAmPrincessX.com. The more May explores the webcomic, the more she sees disturbing similarities between Libby’s story and Princess X online. And that means that only one person could have started this phenomenon – her best friend, Libby, who lives.
Feelings: I’m always open to reading different book formats – comic books, graphic novels, ebooks, audiobooks, and any combination. This book was a new venture for me in that it’s both a graphic novel and a chapter book. I wasn’t sure how that would play out, but I really enjoyed it! It broke the story flow up a little bit, in a positive way, and made it so that the visuals added a totally different kind of depth to the plot.
Probably my favorite thing about this book was the author’s writing style. The little quips and quirks were so enjoyable and unexpected. This was the author’s first foray into the realm of YA lit and I think she did a great job of being grown-up funny and interesting, while not being too far away from the core of YA. We still got our healthy dose of friendship, loyalty, identity, and all our favorite YA nuances.
This story was twisty! Is Libby alive? Is she publishing Princess X? If so, how’s she managing to pull that off? How did the bad guy make everyone believe that she was dead? After about 50 pages, I was hooked. There were so many different avenues that the story could go down and at that point, I really couldn’t pinpoint where it would go. I like stories that keep me on my toes and keep me guessing!
Issues: I feel like the author was trying to hard sometimes. I don’t know how many references to Seattle I need before I understand that it’s Seattle. I get it. There’s coffee everywhere and the weather and the building and OK ALREADY.
There was so much intensity and mystery…up until literally the last 15 pages. It all just felt rushed and something happens that makes zero sense. As May is telling us where she’s looking (no spoilers) I kept thinking…I get that you’re not a hacker, but you should know that it ISN’T hidden in a drawer or on a bookshelf. She was looking for other clues, yes, but they literally had like 4 minutes to look for what they needed and it just felt like wasted time.
Final thoughts: Don’t judge a book by its cover, friends. Ha! It looks all princessy and cutesy, but dang…it was super creepy at times. It didn’t help that I read this book right around midnight, but still. In the end, I enjoyed this book and thought it was a quick, easy read. It’s different from anything I’ve read before, so it was a nice palette cleanser since I tend to binge read in a genre for a while. As a teacher, I think this is a great book for those students who only choose comics or graphic novels. It would help to bridge the gap towards higher level reading and building those comprehension skills, while still keeping them entertained and close to their comfort zone.
*On the Amazon.com page for this book, it says, “for fans of both Cory Doctorow and Sarah Dessen.” I don’t know Cory, but I know Sarah. I make zero connections between this book and Dessen’s dozen books. That’s my two cents on that.
Goodreads rating: 3.99/5
Amazon.com rating: 4.2/5
My rating: 4/5
Happy reading! – Caitlyn