Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Princess and The Prom Queen by Jaclyn Weist - Book Review


Nowadays there are as many different kinds of books as there are readers. Furthermore, there are many different ways to publish a book in today's ever-growing digital age. Besides the big publishing houses, we now have smaller presses and many self-publishing options for the modern author in which to choose. This book in particular was published by a small Utah press called Trifecta books.

First off, the cover and title did little to peek my interest, both unimaginative and typical of the YA market. However, I decided to look passed this and give the book a chance.

The Pros:
The concept is clever and wildly imaginative putting a twist on my favorite fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty"and combining it with time travel and the old classic "The Prince and the Pauper." The book begins with  Jenny a typical teenage girl from present day USA who wakes up to a prince kissing her, in a mid-evil castle discovering that she has switched places with Princess Genevieve who happens to be the real life person the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale was based on. This gives the story two interesting settings and concepts. The plot is fast-paced for younger readers, and the story is not too predictable with some good plot twists.

The Cons:
I desperately wanted to love this book because of the "Sleeping Beauty" element, but alas I just couldn't and I'll tell you why. First off the inciting incident happens too fast. We're only a few pages into the book, we've barely even met Jenny, and we're suddenly thrust into another time when she awakes as princess Genevieve. We don't have time to care enough about her before her life gets turned upside down. Generally the industry experts will tell you to introduce the inciting incident early in the book, but I feel in this case this idea was taken to an extreme. There is little to no description or world building which made it a very bland read. For me the beauty is in the details. One can get away with little description in a modern timeline but typical Fantasy readers expect to be drawn into a whole new world. Descriptive writing that creates atmosphere is how this is done. Because of the lack of detail this book reads more like a first draft then a finished novel. Everyone has heard the saying "Show, Don't Tell" well... this book tells and never shows. The dialogue is basic giving little to no sense of the characters' personality. Some plot points are weak and unbelievable such as: Jenny's parents are far too willing to believe that their daughter has been replaced by a mid-evil princess. I would've liked to have seen a little more skepticism on her parents' part. I have a hard time imagining any reader over twelve really enjoying this book. I, myself, never got emotionally involved with the characters perhaps because they were two dimensional and never felt real. In the end the villain is defeated too easily, the ending wrapped up too fast, and a solution to the main conflict of the book solved too conveniently. Had the ending been better I would've given the book another star.

Also, I noticed nine missing or misused words. Had this been self-published I would've dismissed this but as a professionally published novel this looks bad. As a self-published author I know my books have a few mistakes in them. Whereas I don't have the resources to hire a team of editors to find every flaw in my novels, this book, being published by a press, that claims to have experience should not have this many mistakes.

"The Princess and the Prom Queen" is a creative tale with a decent plot that just didn't reach it's full potential. I give it two stars. So low a rating I have never given a book in my life. I generally don't like to leave a bad review. As an author myself I know what it feels like to receive a review like this. However, I feel so passionately about my bad experience with this book I feel I owe it to other readers to share my thoughts and feelings. On the upside a few bad reviews lends a book more credibility for perspective readers. When a book has only five and four star reviews one can't help but wonder if they're all written by friends and family. As a close I want to add that as beauty is in the eye of the beholder so merit is in the mind of the reader. What was an unsatisfying reading experience for me might be a great experience for another reader. To best judge if you would agree with my critique of this book I would recommend reading my other reviews or just plain reading the book for yourself. Click here to get "The Princess and the Prom Queen" 


Now go forth and read and then read some more!
Till Next time,

R.J. Craddock