I expected to like this book; the ratings for it are supremely high. I did not, however, expect to love it.
The highest compliment I can pay this author is to say I would rank it among the likes of The Hunger Games. Yep, that good. And like Collins, Nielsen masterfully crafts book one of a three-part series, leaving her readers hungry – pardon the pun – for book two, The Runaway King. (It’s on its way to me now!)
The only reason I did not expect to love this The False Prince is because I don’t usually enjoy swift action tales. I am much more prone toward the drawn-out, character-driven, rife with imagery and details novel. This makes sense, as this is what I typically write. And subsequently this is mostly what you will find on my shelves, Goodreads and oak.
Leery to begin, by the end I thoroughly expected to be met with the aftermath of a succinct young adult page-turner: left wanting more; but instead I was immediately pulled into a story setting its feet on the ground the second ink touched paper. I was captivated and costumed, finishing within only a few days. For most readers, I know, this likely would not be an impressive feat, seeing as how the book only reads at 342 pages; but I am a slow reader, and usually reserve reading time for just before bed. That said, I am not ashamed to admit I took the book with me into the loo (Don’t judge me – No, I am not English, but loo sounds way more civilized than bathroom). When my husband ventured in to our bedroom this afternoon — Bella and I sprawled across the bed –, he asked if he might have a word with me (Again, no – we’re not that fancy around here, but having used the word loo a moment ago, I feel I have now set a precedent, and it’s my duty to jazz up the post). Anyhow, I had to refuse my dear husband any words, except the ones I was reading at that moment, for I had reached the story’s climax. I did not stop reading until I reached the acknowledgments.
I am in awe of the woman who can unearth such strong emotions in me using so few words. This book is the example of Making Words Count. There was no waste. No fluff. No airy pockets in which the writing digresses. Preambles and interpretations were sparse, if they were even there at all. Nielsen got to the point, again and again and again, and I loved her all the more for it.
The main character, Sage, is exactly what you would expect of a fifteen year-old-ish orphan accustomed to looting pockets and paying handsomely for it later. He is snarky and clever, at times insolent, though redeems himself with an honorable character and several beneficent acts. I liked him from the get-go. I believed in him, and I found myself caring more and more for the boy, hoping the inevitable and unavoidable trouble lurking nearby would only graze him – say, the way a deftly guided coin grazes knuckles. It’ll make sense later, I promise.
The dialog. If the writing is the book’s heart, then the dialog is its backbone. The bantering, the battles of wits, the bickering, the inner tug-and-war — every single lick of it was as believable as my desire to find out what happened next. This book sold me on its exchanges. Nothing felt contrived. I never found myself wincing or thinking would he really say that? Descriptions are given as necessary, which means you as the reader must use your imagination for much of the story. This I found not at all difficult to do, solely because of the conviction with which the dialog was executed. Well frickin’ done, Jennifer!
I gave this book 5 stars, something, if you know me, I rarely do. I reserve five-star ratings only for books that change my life in some big or small way. Though, as I mentioned before, I do not typically enjoy the rapidly paced read, I would be remiss if I did not give enormous credit where it is due. Nielsen wrote an exceptional novel, and I hope many of you will support her by purchasing, reading, and reviewing it.
** Blurb taken from Author’s Goodreads’ profile.
THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats