Saturday, June 11, 2011

Review: The False Princess - Eilis O'Neal

Synopsis: Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia has led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when she learns, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city, her best friend, Kiernan, and the only life she's ever known. Sent to live with her only surviving relative, Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. Then she discovers that long-suppressed, dangerous magic runs through her veins, and she realizes that she will never learn to be just a simple village girl. Sinda returns to the city to seek answers. Instead, she rediscovers the boy who refused to forsake her, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history forever.

Review: Oh dear. I thought I would have more positive things to say about this story when I started reading it yesterday. Sinda showed every sign of being a relatively good, resourceful heroine, and while city and people names were often painfully cliched fantasy names, I had hopes that it would be a fairly good fantasy/adventure story. There are only two things that made this story bearable: 1) it brought back a few fond memories of when, for a while, I tried playing The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion RPG computer game (I admit; there were aspects that were loads of fun), and 2) Kiernan and Philantha were likable characters.

If it hadn't mainly been for Kiernan, who I really did attach to quite quickly, and Philantha, who I attached to almost as quickly, I don't think I would have finished The False Princess. Sinda isn't the most annoying heroine I have encountered, but she came bloody well close to it. She isn't resourceful, her attitude grows increasingly worse, she's clumsy to such a degree that I have wonder why she even bothered to walk anywhere (it seems that ever since the Twilight Saga, clumsiness is a running theme amongst annoying heroines. Really, it's irritating and rather nauseating), she's useless and inept at everything (and while she claims that she is willing to learn, her bad attitude of feeling sorry for herself gets in the way), she is a complete jerk to Kiernan, and she spends far too much time trying to "discover" herself. The whale in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie took less time in establishing his identity.

On top of this, the romance in it is positively adolescent and nauseating. Kiernan seems mature in his love and expresses himself well, but Sinda is just . . . Words really cannot express what I am trying to say. Were she a fourteen-year-old, perhaps I would cut her some slack. But she is well past sixteen, and on top of that, she is in love with a young man she's known her entire life!! Such silly "pantings of the heart" love only gets in the way of a good adventure. I am all for romance in stories, but not adolescent "my skin tingles at his every touch and look" romance.

The writing itself isn't terrible, but it is very modern, and the dialogue generously explores every possible solution and/or theory under the sun, just in case the Reader isn't capable of contemplating the possibilities themselves. We also have Sinda's personal thoughts to guide us poor, unimaginative Readers, telling us how we should feel about each character and what we should think of the situation. There is also too much focus on tiny little body movements, the most common being licking one's lips, which really got on my nerves; whenever I read it, my mind immediately focused alarmingly on the lip-licking, accompanied by the deafening sound of that horrible habit. My mind's eye saw the little flecks of dried, peeling skin on the character's lips, and I gazed with horror upon the bits of saliva now coating them.

Have I disgusted you enough now?

I doubt that I will buy The False Princess, and I would only encourage you to read it if you're seeking to be annoyed.

Overall Rating: 

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