Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Book Review: The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa
Ethan Chase can see the fae, and that's been the cause of a lot of problems. He's constantly in trouble, even when he isn't the cause of it. Now, here he is, yet again at another school, trying to make something good out of his life. If he just keeps everyone at arm's length, he can ride out the rest of his school year, and then he'll be free.
But there's one kid at school who is half-faerie. Now, he's gone missing, and there's something strange going on. With a rather pushy school reporter demanding to accompany him, Ethan has to wander into the Nevernever to solve the kidnapping, and there's one person he's going to have to face after all these years:
His half-sister Meghan, the Iron Queen.
That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from http://juliekagawa.com/
Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.
Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.
The Lost Prince is another of those novels set right here, right now, and it's a perfect setting for Kagawa's material. It's all well and good to have magic and faeries in clearly fantastical settings or time periods, but right now? They don't "click" with our world, so Ethan's already got things going against him. Stories like this, and like the Harry Potter series, where there's a whole other world we know nothing about coinciding with ours, always makes me feel like I'm missing something. In a good way. It makes me watch my peripheral vision, to wonder if the movement in the corner of my eye is really something "normal" or not.
Kagawa has a clear sense of her characters' behaviors and thoughts. This is especially evident in Ethan and Kenzie, the two main characters we see. Since this book is in first person, we get a deep understanding of what's going on in Ethan's head and why he behaves as he does. He recognizes that some of the things he does are dumb or bad ideas, but he also knows why he has to do them, and we're right along for the ride.
There are other books in this series, and Kagawa does a decent job ingratiating new readers to what's going on in the fae side of things. Still, it's not a perfect execution there. I'm not saying she needed to add a whole crash course infodump of faerie lore into the novel, but there are some assumptions made that the reader knows about the Seelie and Unseelie Courts and some other details about dealing with the fae. It would make for a bit of a learning curve with readers without much exposure to the concepts. I feel like there could have been a little more-- let's call it a tutorial-- of fae. Not much, but some.
I loved the concept behind The Lost Prince. I really liked a lot of the characters, and I'm always up for messing with faeries.
I didn't enjoy The Lost Prince as much as I'd hoped I would. On a personal level, I didn't click with Ethan, though I understood him very well. There was a lot of wandering in the book, a lot of scene changes and more importantly, scenery changes that I could have done without. In my opinion, there were too many locales we ended up dealing with, and it left me feeling stretched and lopsided. Once we were into the Nevernever, there was just too much going on, having to go here for this and there for that. And a lot of these changes happened far too quickly to get my bearing. I felt like the last two-thirds of the book or so lacked an anchor. That may have been a conscious decision, purposefully done on Kagawa's part. The Nevernever is a very different world from ours, and it's supposed to be foreign and uncomfortable and strange, but it left too much of an unpleasant taste in my mouth for me to want to read more of this series.
There were some great plot twists and reveals (one of which I guessed, to my joy) that really did make things more relatable and interesting, but it wasn't enough for me to draw me back into the story. I may look into Kagawa again in the future, but probably not for the Iron Fey series.
Would I Recommend This Book? If you're a fan of the fae, yes! This book tailors to some fairly specific tastes. While I do think anyone could enjoy it, it left me feeling too unbalanced to want to continue with the series. Kagawa has a solid writing style and has clearly done her homework, but this book just wasn't for me. I give The Lost Prince a half-breed 3 of 5 stars.
For more information on the author, visit http://juliekagawa.com/