Tuesday, April 15, 2014

{Spoiler Free} The Runaway King: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Rating: 9.5/10
Series: The Ascendance Trilogy #2
Genre: Fantasy, Thriller, Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Page Count: 331
Format: Paperback
Source: Book Orders

Goodreads Synopsis: A kingdom teetering on the brink of destruction. A king gone missing. Who will survive? Find out in the highly anticipated sequel to Jennifer A. Nielsen's blockbuster THE FALSE PRINCE!

Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?The stunning second installment of The Ascendance Trilogy takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of treason and murder, thrills and peril, as they journey with the Runaway King!

*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 free click here*

*Check out my spoiler free review and spoiler filled review of The False Prince, which is the first book in the stunning Ascendance Trilogy*

*There are unavoidable spoilers for The False Prince in this review but this review itself it SPOILER FREE concerning The Runaway King. If you want to read the spoiler filled version, click here.*

My Backstory: Another back story....because the entire paragraph for The False Prince's backstory was definitely not long enough. Anyway, I finished The False Prince last Saturday morning. I then had to eat lunch, then spent my entire rest of the afternoon doing a math project. While I was taking an alleged "break" I started reading The Runaway King. On Sunday, I had church and more working on my math project so I only got to page 75 on The Runaway King. On Monday morning while I was reading in ELA class, I was just not feeling the same feelings. All of that changed come about 30 pages later. I read the next 200 something pages in one sitting and please excuse my language. What. The. Hell? The Runaway King was a phenomenal roller coaster of non-stop action. I went back to my roots of reading in the bathroom just because I felt it would be nice to end each book the way I have before. Yes, I am extremely weird.

Plot: The reason I wasn't loving The Runaway King in the beginning was because the action wasn't as fast and furious as it was in The False Prince. Of course that only lasted for the first 100 something pages, but after that, when Jaron goes to the pirates, everything changes and I am practically ripping the pages out of the book. 
The events left me like this...
The Runaway King is the very core and definition of page-turner. When reading, I felt as if I couldn't breathe. It wasn't one of those "this piece of art work took my breath away" kind of situations but the story literally knocked my breath of me. I felt like things were being pelted at me and it was the best feeling in the world. (Yes. I am that crazy to enjoy things being thrown at me) I laughed, sighed (in annoyance with Jaron), and almost hyperventilated with this book. I consider myself a fast reader but reading The Runaway King....was FAST! My eyes would trail down the page, then go on to the next one. And the cliffhangers were continuous. Just when you thought you could return to the real world to do things like brush your teeth or get ready for school, there was more of Jaron being an idiot or him fighting a ton of people when he was incapacitated (I'm going to let the imagination interpret that).  

The cliffhangers just keep happening over and over, and Jaron keeps getting out of them but I still (am stupid enough to) think Jaron is finally doomed. Even where things got a little bit unrealistic, the action doesn't slow for a millisecond, and I expect nothing less.

Romance: I completely understand the dynamics and set up for the love triangle in The Runaway King, but I still don't like it. Amarinda and Imogen have become BFFs...like totes, bla bla bla, Jaron will do anything for Imogen and Amarinda is meek and mild as ever. I know others would say differently, and this is my own opinion but I do not see/understand the 'sparks' between Jaron and Imogen. There are examples in the book for how imogen is strong, and willful, and more of my unusual requirements for a female character. I just don't see them and even though it would never happen, seems an almost submissive and dominant relationship because Jaron is so headstrong and Imogen is compassionate and a used-to-be servant.

Pacing: I honestly don't know how Jennifer Nielsen does it. By that, I mean that I have no idea how the heck she is so talented to be able to write what she writes, and not make me annoyed. Jaron is a cat with nine lives, no matter HOW HARD people try, he just can't be killed. Nielsen leaves you thinking at the end of almost every chapter that he's done for, he's doomed, he's burned a bridge that can never be crossed, he's said something he shouldn't have. 

And Jaron comes out of these situations better off than he was before

I swear, if this were any other author or character, I would have thrown my book against the wall in pure annoyance, but she pulls it off. 

Writing Style: Oh My Gosh, the Legend Trilogy feels came back big-time in this novel, but when I read The Runaway King, it was for a different reason then The False Prince. With The Runaway King,  it was the narration that made me reach up to the heavens and thank the lord (which is weird since I'm not overly religious) Jennifer A. Nielsen is alive to quench my thirst while Marie Lu is still working on The Young Elites. 

Jaron is not Day.
Jaron is not Anden.
But Jaron sure as heck sounds like the two of them.

Let me explain a little for those of you that haven't read The Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu. Daniel Altan Wing or 'Day' is a notorious criminal in the Republic of America who is very similar to Jaron, but that's another post/story altogether. Anden Stavropolous on the other hand is the boy-king that has been raised and groomed to take over the Republic of America. It is as if someone had put an equal amount of Anden, an equal amount of Day into my mothers Nutri-bullet, and a Jaron smoothie came out. I'm not saying Jaron isn't his own person/individual, quite the contrary, he is the most unique character I have ever met. Circumstantially, he is the smoothie. Jaron can't be the carefree boy he was even five days ago that he was with Bevin Conner. He has a duty and responsibility to a kingdom he loves, and he can't be quite as rambunctious and bent on making the lives of the people around him horrible. It's a battle between being the center of grief (in the good grief way, not the somebody died grief way) for all of his regents and subjects, and trying to be a ruler that people believe is too young, inexperienced, and without a good head on his shoulders. Somehow, Nielsen pulls it off the same way she miraculously makes Jaron realistically escape from everything and makes readers perceive him as a saint rather than a devil.

One of the last things I would like to say about The Runaway King is that this is a book for all ages (part of the reason I don't know whether to classify the book as Young Adult or Middle Grade). While the general feel of the book (setting and set-up wise, not 'the feels') may be for littler ones, it was still just as appealing to myself, and others that are older than the targeted age for this book. The themes were wonderful especially the "I never run away or back down" considering the title is The Runaway King. At the same time, Nielsen pulls off having a ton of fighting and face-to-face confrontations, and there is no trace of gore or graphicness to be seen which I know parents (such as my own who are horrified when it comes to violence) appreciate a lot.

Conclusion: This is one of the best books I have read in terms of pacing, style, and themes, and has definitely gained a place of honor on my bookshelves.
Be sure to check my lovely friend Tina Chan's review of The Runaway King at her blog The Book Landers. If you are Legend fangirl you HAVE to talk to her, and even if you aren't you should talk to her and follow her blog because that's just how awesome she is. 

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