Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pennyroyal Academy (Pennyroyal Academy #1) by M.A. Larson

This book was hard for me to get through. I almost abandoned it several times, but a student recommended it so I kept plugging away. Actually I started speed reading. The plot is all over the place, information is given in either large doses or not enough, and the characters are stereotyped along with the whole princessie thingamajig. Except for Basil. He's a boy that is with the princesses instead of the knights. He says it is because his mother had 22 boys and he's being the girl she always wanted. He stays pretty flat as a character and never becomes interesting. The setting is vague at the start along with the world building and I couldn't figure out why Evie was in the enchanted woods. It seemed that she had amnesia but then later she mentions some things about her parents, so I wasn't sure what the heck she was doing in the forest. I thought there was more to it but she's just lost and has been for three days. The reader is plopped in the middle of the action with not much explanation. That's fine if the author unfolds the plot in a logical way. That doesn't happen in this novel.

Evie rescues a prince from an evil witch accidentally. Evie stumbles into a witch's cottage who is gone. When the witch arrives towing a captured prince that she cages before planning to kill him, Evie is hiding under a table in terror. She frees the prince with some encouragement and carries him on his horse because his hands are tied behind his back and there is no time to stop. The prince directs Evie toward water knowing it will protect them from the witch. Evie's in the woods trying to find the Pennyroyal Academy, a school where girls are trained to become princesses and boys trained to be knights. For the first time in its history, the academy is open to commoners which Evie is. The prince is on his way there to become a knight. Few can survive the academy and Evie struggles to fit in before discovering her true parentage and courage.

The obstacles in the plot and the solutions are odd most of the time. Enchanted trees hit people and witches are trying to rise to power. The woods are dangerous and the head mistress is not fair to students. Evie faces a witch and then acts like she hasn't at the academy that left me scratching my head. Her fierceness doesn't come out until the end when she roars like a dragon. The girls tend to see their worth through the eyes of the boys and fight over one boy. Evie cries and runs off too much for my liking and her reactions to obstacles in the plot are often contradictory. I couldn't figure out why the boy, Forbes, that was cursed as a pig kissed Evie. She's mean to him because she reminds him of the picture that cursed him. Rather than find out and ask Forbes questions, she refuses to talk to him. He in turn, is mean back. Ugh. I really started skimming then. The injured dragon sister is a loose end that is not tied up.

The characters don't have much voice. Evie is timid and fearful most of the time. She doesn't trust people and tells the girls her parents were dragons. But when the girls see a dragon by the school no one puts it together. Instead, they shoot it. I thought the characters acted foolish most of the time. The subplot of romance follows the princess and princess fantasy trope that is dull and predictable. And what was the deal with the spiderweb dress? I really had problems envisioning that... I kept thinking of Milla Jovovich's white bandaged-style bodysuit in the movie, The Fifth Element. I know I'm more picky than student readers about books. I also read this so fast that I probably had more questions than if I had slowed down, but I would have felt like a fly in a spider's web. This one missed the mark for me.

2 Smileys

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