Empress & Aniya
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RATING: Okay, despite the marketing campaign, I can’t review this like it’s a YA novel. Everything about the book, from the pink cover to the short length; the writing style focused on dialogue over description to the simple characters is middle grade. Therefore, I need to review it in the context of the target audience – 9- to 12-year-old girls. And, for that audience, I’d say it’s good. So, although I wouldn’t recommend it to a fourteen-year-old, I would buy it for an 11-year-old, and therefore I’m giving it three stars. I'm pretty sure the review I've written is almost as long as the book itself. Damn. Unintentional, but I really struggled to try and put my feelings about this book into words because they were so mixed.
The Guardian Young adult books round-up – review - The Guardian
I'd recommend for any age, honestly. It is technically YA, but I can see pre-teens- college age reading it, as well as adults who want to read a fluffy YA contemporary with a great, happy ending ! But what happened to Aniya's other friends? Did the dynamic of those friendships flourish or wither the longer Empress stayed on scene? That being said I felt the strength of this book was the message, friendship, kindness, hope, redemption.
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I love the concept behind the book and I can really appreciate what its purpose was and what was trying to be done here - it just didn't work for me as much as I wanted it to. I can see how others might fall in love with this story, but it just fell a bit flat for me. It was good, but nothing I want to scream about. I think most of my feelings stem from how rushed it felt. There truly IS PLENTY to like, even some parts to love, for sure, but it let me down a bit because of the wasted potential 🤷🏼♀️. lt could've been SO MUCH MORE. That is what is SO frustrating! (Sorry I know i've said this like ten thousand and two times— mmmk, yeah, clearly there's no hyperbole here. 😂 i'm such a dork. Lol) ANYWAY, B2B—The prose is very simple, a little overly simple for my tastes IMHO, but that DOES make it super readable!
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All in all, was a short read that the youngings might relearn something about being kind, appreciate friendships and those from broken homes know that there is hope of a better future. What I like about this book is that this shows that being unhappy doesn't have much to do with money. Aniya is growing up in a big, but cold, house with loads of pressure on her shoulders. Empress doesn't only miss out on material things, but also on emotional things. She gets no support and no love from her mother.I still do feel the author could have fleshed out the book just a bit. But bearing in mind who the age gap the story I written for it can't go to deep without some triggers that might scar some malleable mind. I haven't ever seen/read Freaky Friday or any films like it, but I assume this is how it usually works? The two MCs temporarily switch bodies - allowing them to understand more about the other. Aniya gets to see the extent of Empress' poverty and home life, and Empress sees that Aniya does really care. Neither of them behave ANYTHING like sixteen-year-olds; they seem like they're about twelve. And the ending is ridiculously saccharine.
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I think though this book as marketed as young adult, it definitely fell towards the younger end of that spectrum. It honestly felt more like a middle grade book, despite the characters supposedly being 15. They didn’t really feel like they were 15 in their mannerisms or their speech, and the writing style was very dialogue centred. For the ideas presented in this book, I would have loved for it to have been matured.I loved it! Empress and Aniya were such great characters! I loved the idea behind the book, I mean who didn’t love the film Freaky Friday? And a little bit of a witchy spell for an October read…perfect timing! I’m not exactly a big fantasy person, so this is how I like my magic in books 😂