Title: Princeless Book One: Save Yourself
Author: Jeremy Whitley
Illustrator: Mia Goodwin
Type: Graphic Novel (library book)
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Read: 29 March 2018
Princess Adrienne has never been content with the roles of the “traditional” princess. She has always questioned why princesses are “fair” and locked away in towers to be saved by a knight in shining armor. However, she finds herself locked away in a tower by her parents, the King and Queen, and guarded by a dragon named Sparky while she waits for her suitor.
However, Adrienne decides enough is enough and opts to save herself. With the help of Sparky and her new friend Bedelia, Adrienne sets out on an epic quest to save her sisters and fight sexism. Nothing is as easy as it seems, and Adrienne soon finds a bounty on her head as her own father as unknowingly accused her of murder.
Where was this quirky fairytale when I was growing up? I adored Princeless because of its humor, art, and well-developed, diverse characters. Adrienne isn’t your typical princess, and she is unafraid to be herself and speak her mind. I love that she calls out sexism, whether it’s the standard of throwing princesses in secluded towers or how women’s armor is made to be more visually appealing for men than it is to actually protect the woman wearing it.
While I enjoyed the story, it was definitely written for a younger crowd (my library has it cataloged as teen but the writing feels much younger), and the writing itself could be a bit messy and had some plot holes (hopefully those will be resolved in later issues!). A lot of thought clearly went into this world, and I have no doubts it will grow, adapt, and become more solid in other installments.
This book also focuses on the expectations placed on boys. Ardienne has a brother who is all but ignored by the King because he is not enough of a man. Devin seems to be a bit more sensitive and gentle than the other man, and this does not win the approval of his father, who dismisses him as in heir to the throne in favor of one of his daughter’s future suitors. I’m interested to see where the plot goes with Devin as I think his character will end up being quite important to the story.
While there is a lot going on from world-building, character development, and establishing a plot, the story is still fun and presents a positive message to readers about feminism. It encourages young women to stand up for themselves and realize their worth as individuals. It also tackles race, family relations, and friendship in a way that is easy to understand without seeming like an “oh by the way” add on.
I hate calling books “girl books” and “boy books”. I actively avoid placing genders on books because I never want a child to feel discouraged from reading something because it is “too girly” or “too boyish”. Use this book as a way to talk about feminism and the ways “social norms” impact people. Talk about the art, what it means to be independent, and why outdated attitudes are harmful.
I definitely encourage this book for all ages, and for any person. I have high hopes for the rest of the series and can’t wait to get reading.