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Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Runaway King (The Ascendance Trilogy #2) by Jennifer Nielson

A kingdom teetering on the brink of destruction. A king gone missing. Who will survive? Find out in the highly anticipated sequel to Jennifer A. Nielsen's blockbuster THE FALSE PRINCE!

Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?

The stunning second installment of The Ascendance Trilogy takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of treason and murder, thrills and peril, as they journey with the Runaway King!

Released: March 1st 2013          Pages: 331
Publisher: Scholastic Press        Source: Library

Flashback to 2012: The False Prince was coming out, and I really, really wanted to read it.  It had been a long time since I'd been so excited for the release of a non-sequel book.  And when I finally read it, it was awesome.  Not five-stars awesome, but pretty close. 

And then this book happened.  It's rare for a sequel to improve on its predecessor, but Jennifer Nielson pulled it off.  I applaud her for that.  At this rate, the finale of this series will be utterly fabulous.

This book is just so much fun.  It's just a sheer pleasure to read.  I'm not entirely sure what designates a book as "fun"--a good book is not necessarily fun, but a fun book is always goodThe Marbury Lens or The Giver, for example, are excellent books, but they don't have this element of fun to them.  Part of the appeal, I think, is that no matter how intense this book gets, it never forgets to lighten up every so often.  It can make you smile.  It's a swashbuckling (and yes, there are pirates, so I am absolutely allowed to call it "swashbuckling") adventure with plenty of witty dialogue.

All of this would have easily earned this book four stars.  And yet, I'm giving it five.  Here's why, in one word:


It's been a long time since I loved a main character this much.  Part of it, I think, is the fact that he reminds me of my own main character, more so than any other character I've read about before.  He has a very similar situation in life to my MC, so that makes him easy for me to like. 

Also, he can be hilarious when he gets going. 
Jaron: "I want the [sword] I came here with."
Pirate: "Why that one?"
Jaron: "The stones in the handle match my eyes."

Oh, Jaron.  So quirky, and yet...there is some awesome depth to him.  The author did not skimp on her character development, that's for sure.  Another part of the reason why I love him so much is that he spouts all these one-liners because a) it's just who he is and b) I think he wants to cover something up.  He's had to go through some tough things, and these experiences take their toll.  Smart-aleck is his coping method.  Jennifer Nielson does a wonderful job ensuring that all of these emotions get through to the reader. 

And, as always, there's an element of "I just like this character because reasons."  You can't pinpoint exactly why you like them, or what you like about them, but you love them all the same.  And Jaron is totally the kind of character where I would like to pull him out of his book and hang out with him, because he's just awesome.

I loved this book.  It sits in that no-man's land between middle grade and young adult.  Well, I shouldn't call it a no-man's land, because I'm rather fond of it.  Anyway, though, it fits into that, er, spot, but it would definitely appeal to older YA readers.  You're never too old for some MG, or this fabulous book. 

Five stars because Jaron.  And the rest of it, too.

Similar Books: It has a very similar premise to Falling Kingdoms, has a plucky young teenage boy hero like the Ranger's Apprentice books, and feels similar to The Girl of Fire and ThornsIt would be a fabulous read for someone who likes high fantasy of this sort but is too young for (or who just wants something tamer than) A Game of Thrones.
Side Note: I have a snow day today.  I HAVE A SNOW DAY.  In May.  What is this madness?  Brace yourselves: winter is...still here, for some reason.

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