Wednesday, August 22, 2012
PALACE OF STONE by SHANNON HALE (Goodreads)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Kids
Source: ARC from BEA (Thank you!)
Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting . . . until she learns that they have some frightening plans. They think that Miri will help them, that she "should "help them. Soon Miri finds herself torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends' ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city. Picking up where "Princess Academy "left off, this incredible stand-alone story celebrates the joys of friendship, the delight of romance, and the fate of a beloved fairy tale kingdom.
(This book is one of the books up for grabs as part of my birthday & Travel Tales giveaway!)
I have not yet read Princess Academy, but it definitely did not stop me from enjoying PALACE OF STONE, the second novel SHANNON HALE has written for the series. This novel has an abundance of elements that I love in my books - a kingdom fraught with tension and politics, a group of friends that stick together through thick and thin, a little bit of magic and a heroine I can root for. It's really no surprise that I ended up really liking this book!
What I love most about Miri, our main character, is the fact that's she intelligent, and always looking for further knowledge. Apart from that, Miri is a good friend to just about everyone she meets, loyal, kind and very brave. This book shows us how Miri learns to deal with making the "right" decision when faced with choices that are equally hurtful and helpful to herself and to the people she loves. It's always hard to be put in the sort of situation that seems to be completely impossible, no matter what choice you make, and so I was definitely curious to see how Miri dealt with her struggle.
The best part of this book, however, is the story itself. Based roughly on the French Revolution, the story poses questions of equality and freedom, especially with the limited resources that were available to the people. I thought it was interesting to see how people on both sides (monarchs and nobles versus common folk) were understanding the situation, and how they chose to react and fight back. I know that probably makes me sound like a nerd, but all this debate (most often noted internally in Miri) was definitely something that caught my attention. It was a question of ethics and political thinking, and I LOVED that SHANNON HALE was able to translate that into an easy-to-understand story.
Honestly, PALACE OF STONE is smart and fun, while telling a story that gives us a lot to take away. SHANNON HALE has a won a place in my heart (and library) with this lovely novel, though I would probably recommend it to an audience that's a little bit younger.