Continuing March’s look at Other People’s Books, I’d like to feature a change of pace for Hero Go Home. There’s really no connection at all, either thematically or even proximately, between Digger, or superheroes in general, and Eilis O’Neal’s debut novel, The False Princess. But she’s a friend, and if you can’t say nice things about your friends’ books (especially when they’re true), then why even have a blog?
Okay, so this may not be pleasant, but think back to Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (sorry). Senator Padme Amidala (nee‘ Princess Amidala) gets off her shuttle on Coruscant when a bomb goes off, killing her. Only she’s not really dead. It was a double who got killed in her place while the real Amidala was posing as a common member of her retinue.
This kind of thing happens in fiction all the time: the commoner suddenly discovers (s)he’s a noble and sets off on a rollicking adventure. It’s a cliche by now.
So Eilis O’Neal in her debut novel from EgmontUSA turns the cliche on its head. Her book is about the decoy, the False Princess. Nalia suddenly discovers at the age of 16 that her entire life is a lie; she’s not really a princess. She’s a commoner actually named Sinda, substituted for the princess to foil a dire prophecy given at the princess’s birth. Her parents aren’t really her parents, and the future she has spent her entire life preparing for won’t be happening. It’s a lot to take.
So Sinda has to adjust to life as a normal peasant, only she’s not very good at it. Luckily (well, lucky for her, I guess), there really is a secret plot against the throne that only she can unravel.
Number one, the book is mainly a coming-of-age romance written for teenage girls. As an almost 50-year-old man who writes about comics and superheroes and shit blowing up, I am obviously not the target audience.
But number two, O’Neal is a good enough writer that I still enjoyed the book. Some of the twists are a bit predictable, but there’s a really good one about halfway through that really caught me. O’Neal captures the confusion and contradictions that bedevil teens wonderfully. I plan to give (okay, lend) this book to my daughter and see how she likes it.
And as a side note, this book taught me an important lesson about writing. If you’d like to know what that lesson was and you have a blog, let’s cross-post or something. I would love to discuss writing with someone other than my screen.
There’s one more Thursday left in March, and I’m not sure what to discuss next. If you have a suggestion, let me know in comments or by writing firstname.lastname@example.org.