Friday, January 26, 2018

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen | Re-Read Review

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The Ascendance Trilogy #1
Date Read: Dec 15 to 19, 2017
First Published: 2012
Paperback
Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating:
Re-Readability:
In this first book in a remarkable trilogy, an orphan is forced into a twisted game with deadly stakes.
Choose to lie...or choose to die.
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.
Confession time: I start a shit ton of series but finish only a fraction of them. And it's only because they're bad about a third of the time. The rest is... well, because I'm stupid, okay?

Take The False Prince for example. I truly and honestly loved this book when I first read it in 2014. I finished it being wowed, and excited, and super interested in reading the rest of the series. SUPER INTERESTED, okay? 

But then came the waiting period until the second book made it into my doorstep, and somehow, by the time I got it, I had forgotten that I loved the first one. Just... forgotten. So I put it on the shelf and barely even looked at it from that day on.

Finally, fate intervened. The third and final book was available on Kindle for, like, 3 dollars, and I succumbed and bought it. Now, I had no reason not to finish the series, and better yet, I was thinking of it again. Now, I couldn't just start with the second book, could I? Naturally, I had to re-read the first book first. And then it would be time for... THE BINGE!

Now, originally, I had given this book a 5 star rating. As I re-read this novel I had to concede that it was no longer a five star for me. It's still a wonderful story that I highly recommend, which is why I gave it a very respectable 4 star, but there were some things that just fell short considering I knew what was coming.

My experience with The False Prince, both times, started out slow. This book doesn't immediately make me unable to put it down. It took a while, say eighty to a hundred pages, for me to suddenly be grabbed by the need to read it. But then, when it came, it didn't let go until I finished reading, so I guess all in all it's a definite win for the book.

The strongest part of this novel is, hands down, Sage himself. As far as main characters go, he is a long way from perfect, and that's actually why I loved him so much. He is a brave, clever, headstrong boy. Who is also reckless, sharp-tongued and stubborn, with far too much ego at times. But he has a good heart, and his actions are always derived from that place. In fact, he almost never does anything for his own sake, but he always makes it appear like that's what he's all about, which just... it just made him extra lovable in my eyes.

Next to Sage is a cast of interesting characters; first, we have Tobias and Roden, the other two orphans fighting for the title of prince. These two fought for my affection and hatred throughout the whole book, and I honestly didn't know who I would end up loving and who I would end up disliking until the final chapters.

Then we have Imogen, a servant girl in Connor's house who catches Sage's attention. She is a fierce lady whom I loved, although her storyline made less sense to me the second time around. I remember feeling a bit baffled by the apparent affection between these two the first time around as well, but I definitely felt it stronger with this re-read. I just don't quite understand Sage's attachment and gratitude to her, seeing as she had very little to do with the actual plot.

It kind of felt the way it does when you listen to someone's conversation, then something distracts you and you return to listening at the end. You feel like you've missed something in the reasoning and progress of the story, even if you get the general gist of things. I am curious to see how their relationship develops--if at all--throughout this series.

Then we've got Mott, Connor's loyal right-hand man, and one of my favorite characters. Mott and Sage start off on the wrong foot but boy does he prove himself to be a good man at the end there. He's kind of, like, the father figure Sage has always needed but never had, you know? And, speaking of the devil, Connor himself was quite interesting as well. I never liked the guy, but I never quite hated him, either, if that makes sense?

Now, going into this novel the second time, I obviously knew what was coming. And even though I pretty much called it on my first read as well, I had much more time to look for the clues... and not all of them add up. Sometimes, Nielsen puts in paragraphs that make no sense in light of what's to come, and that feels like a real flat attempt at misdirection that could've been solved if only things had been phrased a little differently. I still feel things were very well done, but not as tidy as I originally thought they were.

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