Monday, February 7, 2011

Review - Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner (3/5 stars)

Nobody's Princess (Princesses of Myth)Reading level: Young Adult/Middle Grade
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Size: 336 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 25, 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0375875298
Stand Alone or Series: 1st in Princesses of Myth
Source: Bought
Rating: 3/5 stars

The premise of this story sounded wonderful.  A strong Spartan princess who wants more than just to be a princess, she wants adventure and will buck traditions to get it.  I was excited to read this book.  Unfortunately the book wasn't as astounding as I had hoped; the writing is simplistic, the characters two-dimensional and it just wasn't the exciting book I had hoped for.

Helen is the beautiful and oldest daughter of the Spartan king.  She will be Queen when her father passes away.  Helen begins to wonder why everyone calls her beautiful and what that means for her position in life.  She finally decides that she wants more than the life of a beautiful Queen, she wants adventure.  Helen tags along after her brothers in a series of adventures in an effort to discover what she truly wants and how she can make it happen.

This book was a quick read.  The premise is spot on with something I would like, but it just didn't work for me.  I loved the idea of Helen's character but Helen was never filled out well enough to make her seem real.  Helen is a brat a lot of the time and many times doesn't think through her actions and how they will affect those around her; the result is that Helen is a beauty that is short on brains and wisdom (the opposite of what I think she is meant to be portrayed as).  I really had trouble finding anything to admire in Helen's character and this made it hard for me to engage in the story.

The side characters are similar in that they are very stereotypical and two dimensional.  The plot goes at a pretty good pace but it is predictable and never really seems to have a purpose.  This was a book more about a young girl wandering through her life than a book with any purpose to it.  Many of the things that happen with Helen seem very historically improbable and that was a bit annoying too.

The writing style was okay but simple.  I approached this as a young adult book but it was written at a much younger level.  All the descriptions are there but they aren't written in a way that really grabs the readers imagination and draws them into the scene.  There is no love interest for Helen and there are no people that really help Helen to figure out who she is or what her purpose is.

The ending to the book is non-conclusive and open and doesn't really resolve anything.  Basically everything about this book was mediocre.  It is a generic story about a young girl who wants to be more than a princess.  As such, this book might appeal to younger girls (middle grade or even younger) and it does send a good message about trying to be who you want to be.  There are better stories out there though about similar subjects.

Overall an okay story.  Not really offensive and technically well-written, but not incredibly engaging.  It is an easy read and seems intended for a younger female audience (middle grade or younger).  If you want a more engaging book about a girl trying to break the constraints of being a princess check out Princess Ben instead.  I am sure there are oodles of books out there about this subject that are more engaging, such as those by Tamora Pierce.  I won't be reading any more of Friesner's books in the future.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:


  1. I am 19 and this book captivated me. I think you are being too judgmental over a book. I love mythical books, especially when the author decides to change things up a bit.
    Who says that its correct or not. at the end of the second book, Nobody's Prize, she states "Remember, myths aren't history, and even the 'truth' of history depends on who's telling the story."
    I think Esther did a fantastic job of creating a mystical world with Helen of Sparta. I also think that if you had a better imagination, you would be able to see all of her mythical world, rather than being a judgmental critic. If you spent half of the time reading and using your imagination as you do criticizing her work, maybe then you would understand Esther's fantasy world and the amazing characters she wrote for it. She did a wonderful job and you can stop criticizing her.

  2. Hi Sheli,

    I appreciate your comment. And want to remind that everyone is entitled to their own opinion of a book. I would suggest that you take a bit of time and go over to to see what others are saying about this book; I am definitely not in the minority in my feelings for this book.

    I read nearly 300 books a year and have a pretty broad base on which to judge the content of this book. Granted I am older (in my thirties) but I read a ton of YA and there some great stuff out there.

    That being said you are entitled to your opinion. I know some people who really loved this book and some who hated it. My review didn't really sway either way, I just said that it was mediocre in every way. This isn't the type of book that changes someone's life or blows the genre out of the water with its awesomeness.

    I think that insulting someone's imaginative capacity, just because they don't agree with you, it a bit harsh. But to each their own, it is easy to criticize but harder to create.


  3. Maybe you should look at a couple of these:

    Maybe you should write a book so others can criticize your work rather than your words hurting the reputation of a fantastic storyteller. If these don't catch your attention then you have no sense of a good book and need to shut your trap.