I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest (2015)

17408897This unique book integrates comics into a mystery perfect for the internet generation.

Recommended grade level: 6-12

Pages: 232 (for ISBN 9780545620857)

Genre(s) and keywords: mystery

Tone/Style: modern, investigative

Pace: moderate

Topics: investigations, comics, hackers, the internet, escape, secrets

Themes: friendship, perseverance

Summary: Once upon a time…two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the tales, and their heroine, Princess X, slayed all the dragons and scaled all the mountains their imaginations could conjure.

Once upon a few years later…Libby was in the car with her mom, driving across the Ballard 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, wandering the streets of Seattle, when she sees a sticker slapped in a corner window.

Princess X?  When May looks around, she sees the Princess everywhere: Stickers. Patches. Graffiti. There’s an entire underground culture, focused around a webcomic at IAmPrincessX.com. The more May explores the webcomic, the more she sees disturbing similarities between Libby’s story and Princess X online. And that means that only one person could have started this phenomenon—her best friend, Libby, who lives. (Source)

Who will like this book?: Readers who like lots of questions and interesting concepts will be into this. The book does a nice job presenting clues and leaving room for the reader to theorize.

Who won’t like this book?: The answers take their time coming, so this may not be the best choice for reluctant readers. There’s a bit of action but it’s mostly problem-solving, so action fans, be warned.

Other comments: For some reason I thought this was magical realism for about half the book. Then I realized nothing magical was happening. It does have that vibe though.

Sequel(s):

Readalikes: I’m coming up blank on books that have quite the same hip, slightly creepy almost-magical-but-not vibe as this one, but I can recommend some titles for kids who like a good missing person mystery: The Night She Disappeared by April Henry (recommended for grades 8 and up), Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt (for younger readers), and Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff. The synopsis on Goodreads and other places says “perfect for fans of both Cory Doctorow and Sarah Dessen,” but I don’t get where they’re coming from with that one. (Is it even possible to compare those two authors?)

-Kylie Peters

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