A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that I Am Princess X is a YA debut from the veteran adult author of Boneshaker. It's a traditional novel with sections of comic-book illustrations weaving a fantasy element into the story. Violence is infrequent and not gory and includes discussion of a murder mystery, a fight, gunshots being fired, mild fantasy violence, and a few mentions of blood. Strong language is infrequent and mild, with several uses of "crap" and "kick-ass." Sexual content mentions downloading "dirty books." A bad guy is described as a possible "stalker chasing jailbait" or a pedophile. Lots of typical teen fashion, food, and tech products are mentioned. Kids may want to check out iamprincessx.com, a website that in the book is at the heart of the mystery but in real life mainly promotes the author and the book. Heroine May reads Web comics "Transmetropolitan" and "Penny Arcade"; readers may want to check them out too.
What's the story?
Best friends in fifth grade, May and Libby become obsessed with writing and illustrating their story about Princess X, a katana-wielding, high-top-wearing princess out to save her kingdom. But Libby and her mother die in a car crash, and all the work Libby and May did on Princess X gets thrown out by LIbby's father. Years later, May is turning 17. While back in Seattle visiting her father, she starts to see Princess X graffiti and stickers around town. A bit more digging reveals a popular Web comic about Princess X, with details about the story only May and Libby could know. To find out the truth about Libby and who's behind the Web comic, May will have to dodge the Needle Man, enlist the help of a hacker, and trust the mysterious Jackdaw.
Is it any good?
This YA debut from veteran author Cheri Priest is an engaging, absorbing mystery with comic-book illustrations that weave an intriguing, original fantasy element into the story. The mystery is compelling and unfolds in entertaining ways, thanks to the solid writing, colorful but believable characters, and the illustrations.
The illustration style is a bit childlike, but it adds realism to the idea that it's a comic written and drawn by talented, if inexperienced, teens. Heroine May's voice is believable, and kids will relate to her determination never to give up on her friendship or her search for the truth.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about blending fantasy elements with reality. Does putting the fantasy parts in comic-book format work for you? How do the two styles enhance, or work against, each other?
Did you like the illustrations? Did you wish there were more, or are there enough to tell a satisfying fantasy story?
May had dreams about Libby surviving the car crash. Have you every had a dream that felt like it was trying to tell you something? Do you have a strong "sixth sense," and is it usually right?
- Author: Cherie Priest
- Illustrator: Kali Ciesemier
- Genre: Friendship
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses and Fairies, Superheroes, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
- Publication date: May 26, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 240
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.