Saturday, April 12, 2014

{Spoiler Free} The False Prince: Jennifer A. Nielsen 

Rating: 9.5/10
Series: The Ascendance Trilogy #1
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Thriller, Mystery, Action
Publication Date: April 1, 2012
Recommended For: Fans of the Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu
Publisher: Scholastic
Page Count: 342
Format: Softback
Source: Purchased from school bookorders

Goodreads Synopsis: 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.

*This is new feature I will be doing when I want to write a review of a book with my unfiltered feelings. I will post two versions of the review, spoiler filled, and spoiler free so people can still read the review and hear me gush about how good it is without the plot being spoiled for them. If you want to read the spoiler version click here*

Oh my gosh, the feels, the emotions, the thrills, the astounding writer, the mystery, the suspense, the non-stop action the culmination of every plot element that makes this one of the best series I have read in 2014 and the best re-read of all time. I would have done a "Feels Review" but I did not have time when I finished this as close as you will get to a feels review without me having written it RIGHT after I had finished the book. 

Let's start with the backstory. I had read this book for the first time more than two years ago on a recommendation from a friend who was so kind to lend it to me, and then I ruined it with a leaky waterbottle, but that's  another story. Anyway, I remember finishing this book the first time around. I was sitting on the toilet in my bathroom (don't worry, I wasn't actually 'going to the bathroom') using the nightlight in the bathroom the finish the book in the wee hours of the morning (ten o' clock at night) because it was just SO GOOD, and I knew I would DIE without the sequel. I would have had to wait until next Fall (we all know how that is *points finger at Rick Riordan*) and pretty much forgot about the book entirely. Fastforward to February of 2014. I was browsing Netgalley, looking for books to request that would further lower my already horrible approval vs. feedback ratio. Low and behold, I found the third book in the series that I had fallen in love with. I did the thing we are all expecting. I requested it. Low and behold again, I was accepted. *Showers the world with crowns, swords, and half-truths!* Now here was the problem,  I didn't have access to the book anymore....or the sequel.....which meant I couldn't read the last book. Fastforward to March 2014. I was browsing through the Scholastic book orders (they may be for little kids, but there are some amazing deals, don't judge) and books one and two were there, for nine dollars only.  Of course, I bought them, and here I am around three weeks later, having binge-read almost the entire series as fast as homework and school would let me.

Now that my (very long) backstory is over, where do I begin? The first thing I would like to establish is that this book was a gazillion times better the 2nd time around. Two years ago, I had rated it four stars, it was out of my comfort zone, the first novel I read solely narrated by a male character. Oooh, scary! The thing was, when I re-read this book, it was like walking through a portal back in time. I remember exactly how I felt, when I had read it the first time, the tension, the suspense, and because I knew that Sage was actually Jaron, I noticed subtle hints that hadn't been there before (maybe they were already there and I was too ignorant to notice, but we'll just go with that they hadn't been there before). It was like when you watch a murder mystery again, but you watch the killer with an evil glint in your eyes and curse yourself the entire time for not realizing he was the killer before. 

The first thing I would like to bring up in terms of structure of the book is Sage. Oh my gosh Sage, you are my newest book boyfriend, but if I actually knew you, you would probably make my life hell. Sage was like a cat with nine lives. He just COULD NOT be killed. Time after time again, after button after button he pressed, bridge after bridge you believed he had burned. He was rash, impulsive, aggressive, clever impatient, comical, and so much more. Jennifer Nielsen is a literary genius for having created a character like him. He appeared to be so arrogant and selfish and basically a male version of an absolute and total b***h. Yet, I loved him. If this were any other book, any other premise, and any other author, I would have thrown this book at the wall out of frustration with his character. He would be considered weak, poorly developed, and annoying. Yet, he wasn't and that's why I loved him so much. Jaron stood on this line between right and wrong, and flip flopped between good and evil. You never knew what side he was on, and he intended to keep it that way. The entire book, he was carrying out his own personal agenda, without a care or thought to his responsibility to others around him.

My second point is that if I hadn't read The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen, I would not have enjoyed Legend by Marie Lu as much & if I hadn't read Legend by Marie Lu, I would not have enjoyed The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen as much the second time around. Why is this you may ask? The settings couldn't be farther apart. The premises don't have anything in common. What they do have in common are the characters and passion. If you have read Legend and The False Prince, then you will know that Day and Sage are very similar to each other. Their narration, while Sage's could be coarser and less eloquent at times was mostly what made me draw the connection. But even more than that was the way they thought. Sage was clever enough to talk or fight his way out of a thousand and one situations that could have ended with his death if he hadn't been Sage. Day on the other hand was intelligent enough to con his way out of any situation. In terms of physical attributes, they're practically the same person, minus the long hair on Sage's part. Just to list a few, they're both theives, they spent almost the exact same time period on the streets (ages 10-14/15), agile, climbers, fighters, intelligent, the list goes on. The biggest similarity is that they both have the spirit to do the impossible. 

One area The False Prince lacked in was definitely the female department. First of all, there were only two females mentioned by name in the ENTIRE story (if you don't count the mean orphanage director, Mrs. Turbeldy). There was Imogen, the serving girl who Sage had an inexplicable attraction to and who pretended to be mute for her own safety. Then there was Princess Amarinda that is betrothed to the throne of Carthya. Both of them behaved just as females did back then. They were meak, they were mild, and certainly no Katniss Everdeens. It would have been nice to have a girl to snap back at Sage's quick witted comments. 

Besides Sage's character and similarities to my all-time favorite book boyfriend, Daniel Altan Wing, was the plot and pacing. Event after event happened, delving deeper and deeper into Jennifer A. Nielsen's mind. There was Sage being defiant, Sage annoying people, Sage getting into trouble, Sage doing a range of things that kept the plot going while Conner and everyone around him kept doing things to. I sound so literate. My point, is that the plot was a complicated dance of Sage against the rest of the world. Imagine the game that little kids play called Ninja. Everyone in the circle gets one strike to a person, but if they hit someone, then that limb and/or body part is frozen until there's only one person that can strike another. Imagine that, but with Jaron against every other character in the book trying to strike him and bring him down. 

Now the ending is what made me truly respect Jennifer A. Nielsen two years ago. How on earth do I explain it? Think of the biggest WTF moment you have ever read and multiply it by about a million. I never saw it coming, and when the big reveal happened it was as if I had missed jumping on the Dauntless train and fallen to the cement below. While I never guessed what actually did happen, my friends @codesandwrites and @MalacalaS both noticed them their first time around which proves how much smarter they are than me. I even had a friend pick up The False Prince up in a store on my reccommendation and ask me "Is this what happens?" Anyway, the ending is the very best I have ever read in any novel and if you are not very smart when it comes to guessing what happens in the end of books, then you will be Blown Away more than the Carrie Underwood song. 

Continuation: I have already finished the rest of the series and the review will be up soon but let me tell you, there is no way I could not have read the sequels. After finishing The False Prince. 
Conclusion: The False Prince is a page-turning novel full of sensational feels, plenty of humor, and a protagonist that is impossible not to fall in love with and one HELL of a book. 

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