I Am Princess X
I Am Princess X
Cherie Priest, illus. by Kali Ciesemier
ISBN 9780545620857
Arthur A. Levine/ Scholastic, 2015.
4 ½ stars
Keywords: cherie-priest comics creativity friendship i-am-princess-x mystery

I Am Princess X
by Cherie Priest, illus. by Kali Ciesemier

In her first novel for young adults, Cherie Priest (Boneshaker) introduces Libby Deaton and May Harper, who unite to create the comics character Princess X. The story quickly becomes a gripping mystery after Libby mysteriously disappears and May becomes obsessed with finding her.

Libby and May meet in fifth grade at recess. Libby begins doodling with chalk. When a younger child asks Libby to draw a princess, May suggests, "Give her a sword," and Princess X is born--a brave girl who can combat ghosts as well as human villains. Then, at age 13, Libby and her mother are in a crash that lands them in Seattle's Salmon Bay. But Libby is missing from the car, and May's recurring dream suggests she escaped--despite the later discovery of a body bearing Libby's waterlogged ID.

Three years later, May spies a sticker with Princess X on it. Could Libby still be alive? May hires a computer hacker named Trick to help her, who turns out to be a Princess X groupie, and shows May Princess X's secret web comics. The more May reads, the more convinced she is that Libby is alive.

In a clever innovation, Priest seamlessly integrates Kali Ciesemier's comics within the prose narrative. Each new episode of Princess X reveals further clues and a terrifying reality for their creator. Ciesemier's portrait of Princess X achieves a sense of both anxiety and bravery. Priest demonstrates that creative teamwork of the kind shared by Libby and May leads to an intimate knowledge of one's collaborator.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
Join Newsletter