Within the first few pages of I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest I was giddy. It is the story of a girl looking for her best friend who has supposedly died in a car accident 3 years ago. The storyline becomes increasingly interesting as we watch May, our detective, sift through the pieces of a web comic that she believes is being written by her dead best friend, and is the key to possibly finding her… alive. The coolest part about this book is really the graphic novel pages that are sandwiched between different parts of text. This element of the novel really made me feel like I was solving the pieces of the web comic with May, giving me an almost video game-esque feeling.
The one major downfall with I Am Princess X is the lack of character development. I kept thinking I would get to a point where the characters might have a meaningful conversation, or let a smile or frown linger just a little too long. I wanted something beneath the surface of the mystery driven plot. I wanted some kind of depth! Instead of that, I got to solve the puzzle with the characters. While that was fun, it was not enough to make this book a winner over Bone Gap.
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby was just WOW. Within the first few pages, before we are even introduced to the plot, Laura Ruby’s vivid imagery had my full attention. At first glance, this is a book about a missing woman, and a young man’s journey to find her. However, you simply couldn’t take just one glance at this book if you wanted to. With alternating points of view between Roza and Finn, our missing girl and the young man on the “journey,” but we also read from some of the supporting characters from time to time. These alternating points of view not only leave us begging for more at the end of each chapter, but they also let us peek into each character’s beautiful, crazy mind.
At its core, this book is about finding yourself, the difference between looking and seeing, how we treat women, and where we find hope. Oh, and did I mention the magical realism aspects that make this novel feel like the most exhilarating dream you’ve ever had? Well, there’s that, too.
For me, Bone Gap was an obvious winner.
WINNER: BONE GAP BY LAURA RUBY
Reviewed by Jordan Bumber, Westmont Public Library