The False Prince
Author: Jennifer Nielsen
Publication Date: April, 2012
GoodReads Summary: THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.
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.
What I Think: I recently listened to The False Prince on audio and completely fell in love with this book. I'm so glad I picked up the sequel (which I'll be reviewing tomorrow) at NCTE in the fall. It's really hard to pinpoint what is so amazing about Nielsen's writing that brings these characters to life. When she describes what they are doing and saying and feeling, I can completely visualize the characters like I never have with a book before. What I think it comes down to is that she shows the reader what the characters are feeling. Every description isn't about what a character is doing, it's about how their emotions play out in their actions. During Teachers Write this summer, I read On Writing by Stephen King and he talked about what characters do allows readers to infer their feelings. I must say that Nielsen has this show don't tell thing all figured out. I know I'm going to be rereading this book as a mentor text because of how well she bring her characters and their emotions to life. I can't tell you how many times my heart felt like it was being squeezed into mush throughout this book. It's heart-wrenching but it's also an awesome story of determination and bravery.
While reading The False Prince, I made so many connections with one of my favorite books, Finnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchetta. In both of these books, the main characters find themselves in situations where so much relies on them and yet they aren't officially ready or prepared or old enough or experienced enough or suited for what they have to do...and it doesn't matter, they still have to do it. And while feeling this strong sense of having to do what's right, they are also mourning and at the same time trying to figure out who they can truly trust. See what I mean when I say heart-wrenching? There are definitely enough things Sage has to deal with that made my heart just ache for him.
Beyond all the intense emotions that abound in this book, there really is a lot of mystery and adventure. Don't mistake that all the raw emotions in this book mean it's not full of excitement! I loved the book the entire way through but by the end I was desperate to know what was going to happen. For me, this takes the book over the edge. Yes, I would definitely recommend it to students because I don't think any reader could help but connect with the characters, but even more than that, this is a book that will have readers hooked. Books that have readers on the edge of their seats are priceless. And this is definitely one of them.
This is a book that deserves to be read more than once because after you get through the whole book and relish in the story, you can go back and appreciate everything that the author has done along the way to bring the reader along on Sage's journey. Excellently done.
Read Together: Grades 4 - 7
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 9
Read With: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore, Reckless by Cornelia Funke, Airborn by Kenneth Oppel, Emerald Atlas by John Stephens, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Snatch of Text:
"If I had to do it all over again, I would not have chosen this life. Then again, I'm not sure I ever had a choice." p. 1
Mentor Text For: Characterization, Making Inferences, Foreshadowing, Personal Narrative
Writing Prompts: We don't always have a choice in things we have to do but we can choose how we react or respond to things we have to do. Write about a time in your life when you were proud of how you handled a situation or when you wish you had handled a situation differently. Explain why you were proud or disappointed in yourself and how it will impact you in the future.
Topics Covered: Family, Friendship, Loyalty, Trust, Honesty, Determination, Wit, Grief, Guilt, Bravery, Courage, Taking Risks