With four Young Adult readers in our home, I was very excited to dig into Richelle Mead’s new book series. After all, she is the author of the Vampire Diaries, a series that several of us in my home read and enjoyed. The problem with this book isn’t that Mead did a poor job writing it or that it didn’t have a compelling plot or characters. The issue is that we’ve already read almost this same book – Princess Academy by Shannon Hales).
by Richelle Mead
The Chinese setting and cultural distinctives are new to YA I’ve read and are appreciated. I also appreciate that there isn’t a love triangle! (So thankful!) But almost everything else is strongly reminiscent of Hales’ Princess Academy. Consider the setups:
Fei lives on a mountain. She wakes up to find she’s the only one in her village that can hear. She has a male friend who she has liked since they were young, but because of her social class does not act on her feelings. She finds out that there is peril because the people who live down the mountain who normally feed her people are not sending as much food as they used to so goes on an adventure.
Miri lives on a mountain. She finds out that someone in her village is a princess (and it may be her). She goes on an adventure to an academy to learn how to be a princess. She has a male best friend who she has liked since she was young but hasn’t acted out on her desire. She finds out that there is some peril from bandits and goes on an adventure.
I’m not suggesting that Mead stole the ideas here. What I’m saying is that almost any YA is starting to sound like another one already written. I was excited to read the Chinese aspects of this but they play very little role in this very straight forward story. And if that’s the distinctive and selling point (other than this author’s fan base,) then I’m left wondering why I would read more in this series.
Unfortunately, I don’t recommend this series. I really thought I’d love it but it fails to stand apart from the dozens of other YA titles that are released every month.
Arieltopia, Young Adult Editor, is an 15 year old avid reader – usually going through a book a day – who gives readers a unique perspective on Young Adult, Teen Fiction, along with adult fiction: an actual teenager’s perspective.
Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.