I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
ONCE UPON A TIME
Two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the comics, May wrote the stories, and Princess X fought monsters, ghosts, and other assorted creepazoids from her haunted house high on a hill.
ONCE UPON A FEW YEARS LATER
Libby was in a car accident with her mom, driving across a bridge on a rainy night. When the car went over the side, Libby passed away, and Princess X died with her.
ONCE UPON A NOW
May is sixteen and lonely when she sees a sticker slapped in a corner window--a figure in a gold crown, pink dress, red Chucks, and a long katana sword...
Suddenly, May sees the princess everywhere: stickers, patches, graffiti--an entire underground world built around a web comic at IAmPrincessX.com. The more May explores the comic, the more shocking connections she finds between Libby's death and Princess X's adventures. And that means only one person could have started this phenomenon--her best friend, Libby, who lives.
Wow. What a fantastic read!!! I had read a few positive reviews on other blogs about Princess X and thought I would give it a shot. I haven't read Cherie Priest before but I will have to rectify that ASAP based on how thoroughly I enjoyed I Am Princess X. I settled down to read a chapter or two and stayed fused to the book until the very end...and that finale? It had me whipping through the pages to see what was going to happen next! From the very first line (which is great, by the way) to the last, this book was fast-paced, smart, and a lot of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed May and Patrick, a neighbor and computer enthusiast who becomes her friend and co-conspirator in proving Libby is alive and well.
The pacing in this book is absolutely breathtaking. I was drawn right into the story of May and Libby's childhood friendship so when May spots the Princess X sticker I was immediately invested in finding out what could possibly be going on. The clues in the beginning took just enough time to create tension but not so much time as to allow boredom to creep in...from there the action deepened and quickened just a bit, then a bit more, so on and so forth until finally it was a breathless race to the end. There isn't a large cast of characters in this book but all of them are given the perfect amount of page space to effectively push the story forward...I was especially interested in Jackdaw whose back story was filled in with broad strokes with a few tiny details thrown in and I found him fascinating.
The Princess X comics that were interspersed were fantastic and I loved the idea of weaving clues within them for May to solve. Each time May would successfully solve one puzzle I would feel just a tiny bit of relief before the tension amped right back up again because there was still so much more to figure out. The back story of what happened to Lily was creepy but scarily plausible. And the villain of the piece? Naming him The Needle Man was genius...he was truly shudder-worthy...
All in all, I can whole-heartedly recommend I Am Princess X for anyone who wants a fast-paced adventure filled with smart writing, great characters, and a mystery that will keep you guessing.