House Read: I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
I Am Princess X is two different things at the same time. The first part is the story of May, a girl who splits her time between her Dad’s in Seattle and her Mom’s in Atlanta.
When her parents first moved to Seattle, when they were still together and everything seemed ok, May had one friend. Her name was Libby and she was amazing. Together, the girls created Princess X, a ballgown wearing, katana wielding, blue-haired heroine. Libby drew the pictures and May wrote the stories. It was a perfect partnership.
Until Libby died in a car accident. Princess X was lost. Her creators were torn apart and all the notebooks of her adventures were carelessly discarded by a grieving father. May’s life was left bereft and slightly aimless until three years later when she sees a sticker in the window of an abandoned store. People put stickers all over the place, but this one is of Princess X. The sticker leads her to a webcomic, IAmPrincessX.com.
May becomes convinced that Libby is still alive and is reaching out to her. She finds help from a computer hacker who lives upstairs and together they find that the webcomic is just the beginning. Libby’s disappearance was much more ominous than anyone told May at the time. There is someone trying to keep May from solving the mystery of Princess X, but she’s willing to face anything for the chance of finding Libby again.
I Am Princess X is the first book I’ve finished this year. I was actually supposed to be reading The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu. I did a twitter poll and everything! But, I needed something I could take with me yesterday and so I grabbed a smaller book that would actually fit into my purse. So, I started I Am Princess X in the afternoon and then I stayed up far too late finishing the book off. Which, makes it the first book I have finished this year! Woo!
So, this book is pretty awesome. Cherie’s story is blended with illustrations by Kali Ciesemier. At the beginning of the book, the illustrations match Libby’s chalk drawings and then they evolve into panels from the webcomic. The illustrations are all done in purple and grey and they’re very haunting.
May strikes me as a very believable character and the mystery is tense and gripping. The whole thing is set in Seattle, which lends itself well to the sort of magical realism that going on a quest at the behest of a princess in a webcomic would require.
The story does get fairly dark, so I would probably recommend it for an audience of 12 and up. I am significantly older than 12 and I loved it, so I don’t think there’s an upper limit to Princess X’s audience.
Cherie has mentioned that this was a project that Scholastic approached her to work on, so it isn’t likely that there will be a sequel, but she may have a new YA novel out sometime in the future. I look forward to seeing it and, really, anything else she puts out.
Kali Ciesemier has a wonderful website where you can get prints of her work. I will have to look at that once my wallet recovers a bit from the holidays.