Monday, November 19, 2012

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal is on the nominee list for the Beehive Book Award in the Young Adult Category this year (2012).  (And not to be confused with the False Prince by Jennifer Neilsen which will likely be on next years list, as it's on the long list right now, and is AWESOME!)

I've been reading it over the course of a month or two . . . meaning I started it a while ago, but had a ton of other books more pressing (homeschool, book clubs, etc.) that I never seemed to make it back. It was a nice story, but then just before the halfway book, there was a twist I didn't expect and I finished in one day. (I'm a fast reader when I'm determined!)

The princess Nalia is informed, just after her 16th birthday that she really isn't the princess. She is a commoner named Sinda. An oracle gave a prophecy at the birth of the true princess and revealed that she was in danger of being killed before her 16th birthday.  A commoner's child was put in the princess' place to avoid that risk, and the real princess was raised in a convent. The danger now passed, the real princess was to be reinstated, and a cursory thank you given to Sinda as she was sent out the door to live with an aunt.

The story is adventurous, but also gives thought to the questions "Who am I and What makes me, me?"

I thought it wasn't really true to life for parents, even royal parents, to just oust a child they had raised for the past 16 years for a replacement they didn't know even if the child was of royalblood, but the book uses that point later in the book to show that the current royalty is out of touch with the needs of the common people. My concerns about this were addressed later in the book. (The queen misses Sinda, but feels it is her duty to support the restored princess.)

The twist in the storyline occurs just about halfway through the book, and causes the action to pick up . . . Sinda discovers she has magic, that she is the only one who can defeat a sixteen year old plan to replace the current family line with another royal family line.

There is a bit of romance (which i often don't like, especially in YA books, because it so quickly becomes inappropriate.) But this romance was helpful to the story, and not too much so that overpowered the true story.  Warning: there is a paragraph that says one boys motive for befriending Sinda was to "bed" the girl that had been a princess. But Sinda avoids that consequence and recognizes with relief that she could have fallen prey to that unscrupulous plan. When she falls in love, or realizes she is in love, it is realistic and appropriate.  (Note: This book has a relationship triangle . . . but it isn't a romantic triangle.)

Fairly quick read, fun . . . I'd call it a beach read or a summer read if it were forty degrees warmer!

I'd read this with my daughters age 12 and up. (Before that I'd be uncomfortable with "what does 'bed the princess' mean, Mom?")

(Three means I liked it . . . it sounds like a bad review, but it isn't. Not a book I would read again, but a book I could recommend to others.)

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