Book Review: “I Am Princess X” by Cherie Priest

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I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest gives literary voice to pretty much every friend I had growing up—pizza-eating, video-game playing, comic-writing 12-year-old girls. These real-life adolescents make such rare appearances in YA literature that I’d almost forgotten to look for them, even though they surrounded me every day when I was growing up. Instead, I’d align myself with the heroines who read lots of books (much easier to find). While that personality trait is certainly a true part of my personality (full disclosure, this is the fourth book review I’ve written for MuggleNet today), it left out a lot of other things I was as well. I will never stop advocating for books about the bonds of female friendship, especially if they forgo romance altogether, and I Am Princess X is a prime example of both.

Libby and May became best friends one fateful gym period when they both had to sit out, Libby because of a broken leg and May because of asthma. All it took was one P.E. class for them to invent Princess X, the katana-wielding, converse-wearing bad ass who protects the mythical city of Silverdale. For the next several years, Libby and May are inseparable, all the while creating new comic adventures for Princess X—Libby draws the panels, and May writes the stories. But tragedy strikes when Libby is killed in a car accident, and May can’t bear to work on Princess X without her. Years pass, but when May is 16 she starts seeing stickers of Princess X up around Seattle. Is it possible that Libby is somehow still alive?

What follows is a contemporary mystery full of twists and turns as May, with a little help from a new hacker friend, attempts to uncover who could possibly be behind the resurgence of Princess X. May’s quest for the truth takes her all over Seattle and straight into the path of a menacing man who may be responsible for Libby’s disappearance. Parts of the story may be a bit sensational—all in the service of a more compelling read, I assure you—but it’s tempered by how down-to-earth May is. She has no particular talents or abilities. May becomes the hero of the story for one reason and one reason only: She’s Libby’s best friend. The bond of their friendship is what defeats evil, and that makes for both a powerful message and an engaging read.

The plot’s no Gordian knot, but Priest’s readable style, and the incorporation of a Princess X webcomic into the text itself, keeps you from getting bored with this story. I Am Princess X is pure fun and a much-needed addition to the canon of YA literature for girls who like Reddit and superheroes.