X for eXcellent

I Am Princess X, by Cherie Priest (2015)

Opening line: “Libby Deaton and May Harper invented Princess X in fifth grade, when Libby’s leg was in a cast, and May had a doctor’s note saying she couldn’t run around the track anymore because her asthma would totally kill her.”

As this opening line tells us, when they were kids, best friends Libby and May created a princess. But this princess was not the kind to wait in the top of a tower or sing sweetly with birds and squirrels. She was the kind to kick ass and take names, while wearing red high tops. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the stories, and their princess, Princess X kept them busy for years. Until one night when Libby and her mom accidentally drove off the side of a bridge and died, taking May’s heart with them.

Years later, May is back in Seattle temporarily living with her father (after her parents’ divorce), still lonely after her best friend’s death, when one day she notices a sticker on the side of a building. And the girl on the sticker looks startlingly like Princess X.

May takes to the internet, desperate to find some answers, and she finds a webcomic that’s been going for a long time, filled with drawings just like Libby made them. The story is different though. The story tells of a framed car accident, a man with a gun, and a captured girl held hostage. And May can’t shake the feeling that the artist of this webcomic must be Libby.

I really loved this one, guys. There’s a lot going on here (comics, best friends, mystery, thriller, hidden identities), but it all ties in seamlessly. Like May, I found myself compelled to figure out what was going on. I hoped with her and despaired with her and had to keep reading (listening) until all the questions were answered. I’ll admit, the ending was a little too dramatic for my tastes, but overall, it did a lot of things right. I will definitely be talking this one up to my students.

2 stars

 

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