I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Goodreads link: (click here)
What's it about?
May and Libby became friends in fifth grade. Their friendship began because of a shared inability to participate in gym class and some sidewalk chalk. When Libby picked up the chalk, she began to draw a princess with a sword, who lived in a haunted house. As Libby drew, May wrote the stories that went along with her, and she became Princess X. Together they filled pages and pages and boxes upon boxes with the adventures of Princess X over the years, but a few years later, it all came to an end on the day that Libby and her mother drove off a bridge in their car. May was devastated to lose her best friend. In her mind she wrote stories about how Libby could have escaped from the submerged vehicle, but after they found her body and May went to her funeral, she lost hope.
May is now sixteen and she's moved on with her life, but she but never really recovered. She never made any new friends and she didn't even have Princess X to keep her company. After Libby died, her father moved and got rid of everything that belonged to her and her mother. It all went to Goodwill or was thrown away. May searched for the boxes with their work for years, but never found anything. She never thought she'd see Princess X again, but one day she spots a familiar figure on a sticker left on a store window. Later she sees it on street signs and even finds graffiti and patches. The figure is definitely Princess X. But how can it be? After some research, May discovers that Princess X is a mysterious and popular underground comic. It could be that someone found the boxes with their story, but there's something about the comic that makes her question what's really going on. As she reads it, she finds that there are some strange coincidences between Libby's death and the story. There are details in it that can only be described as clues that May is sure are meant for her. The more May reads, the more she's positive that Libby is still alive and is waiting to be found. With the help of Trick, the delinquent computer hacker that lives in her building, May decides to solve this mystery. Unfortunately, there's someone who knows that they're on to something, and May and Trick might be in over their heads. They need to find Libby before it's too late.
I Am Princess X is a fantastic, fast-paced murder mystery that's full of action and suspense. I also love that there are Princess X comics interspersed throughout the book that tie into the story. Not only is this a fun mystery, but it's a book about friendship. May and Libby's bond was so strong that they would do anything for each other. May and Trick also formed a great friendship, just when they needed each other most. Yes, Trick is a male character that helps May out, but NO there is no romance or attraction between them! Just heartfelt friendship and trust! It was perfect and kind of refreshing. Of course I enjoy books like this with a bit of romance in them, but in this case it was absolutely not necessary. Love doesn't always happen, especially insta-love, which it would have been if a romance was introduced. It would have slowed the story down and taken away from it. The pacing was also perfect, and with this book, the "enhancement" was the comics. Plus, it gets extra credit for having strong female characters. The Princess X that they created kind of symbolized their own strength and bravery. Lots of badass girl power here. I had been anticipating this for a while and it did not disappoint!