Thursday, August 20, 2015

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

I Am Princess X: Quite possibly the
best thing I've read all summer!
When it comes to "princess" stories, I'm always torn on whether to read or watch them or run away from them screaming. My girlie-girl side, the side that urges me to want to wear pretty frocks and watch every single princess cartoon out there (Disney or otherwise), practically salivates with the need to read (or watch). On the other hand, the Grrl Power, martial arts movie-loving, feminist side of me rejects that desire in every sense of the word rejection ("Gawd, Alissa. Quit being such a...a...girl and go watch some Bruce Lee movies.").

There are exceptions. The Princess Bride, of course, tops that list. Yeah, it's about "kissing," but it's also about sword fights and adventure and true love (even Grrl Power Martial Arts Movie-Loving Feminists dig True Love). The Shrek series is another. Sure, Princess Fiona waits for Prince Charming to rescue her. At first. But she's also pretty kick butt (That Matrix/Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon-style fight scene in the first movie was, alone, enough to win me over). I also love Catherine Gilbert Murdock's Kingdom of Montagne books, Princess Ben and Wisdom's Kiss. So basically there's a happy balance to princess stories that basically comes down to this: 
Helpless Girlie Pink-Wearing Princesses = BAD. 
Strong Female Characters (who happen to be princesses) = GOOD.

So when it came to Cherie Priest's novel I Am Princess X, I was torn. Sure, Princess X wears a fluffy pink dress...but she's also got a Katana. A Katana! Turns out Princess X is only a small, yet key, componet of this most excellent mystery story. It's also got strong female characters, an interesting plot and premise, AND A CHARACTER WHO HAS A KATANA! So yes, I HAD to read it. And I'm so happy I did, because, as it turns out, I Am Princess X was exactly the sort of book I've been looking for.

Without giving away too many spoilers, Princess X is a comic character created by May and Libby when the girls were still in 5th grade. In the months to follow, the girls spent hours creating the adventures of this Katana-welding heroine. But then Libby died in a car accident, and that was the end of Princess X. Or so May thought. Three years later, she sees a sticker stuck to a street corner window featuring Princess X. She follows the the trail to a website. Could the stories of Libby's death be wrong? Could May's old BFF still be alive somewhere? 

Part text, part comic, I Am Princess X tells the story of what happened after (and leading up to) Libby's supposed demise. And turns out the story is much more interesting and dramatic than May could have ever imagined. 

Verdict: In short, I Am Princess X is AWESOME! You should absolutely, totally read it! --AJB

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