Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Frog Princess (E. D. Baker)

The Frog Princess
(The Tales of the Frog Princess series, Book 1)
E. D. Baker
Fiction, YA Fantasy
**+ (Bad/Okay)

DESCRIPTION: Princess Esmerelda's life is nothing but a disappointment. She comes from a line of witches, but can't cast a spell without horrific consequences. She's of royal blood, yet laughs like a donkey and trips over her own feet. Her own mother can scarcely look at her without a sneer of disdain... but that doesn't stop her from using Emma to buy a politically advantageous engagement to a neighboring kingdom. The princess flees to the swamp, the only place where she feels free to be herself - but this time, she meets a talking frog. Eadric claims he used to be a prince, and only needs her kiss to restore his humanity, but Emma knows enough to be skeptical; after all, with magic leaking out of the castle, any animal might start talking, and just because a person's been hit with a frog spell doesn't mean they wore a crown. But he's persistent, and she finally gives in... only something goes terribly wrong. Instead of turning Eadric into a prince, the kiss turned Emma into a frog! The two set off on a dangerous quest to find the witch who cursed Eadric, while Emma gets a crash-course in amphibious survival.
And she still doesn't know if he's really a prince or not...

REVIEW: To be perfectly honest, if the premise of a later book in the series hadn't intrigued me, I probably wouldn't have tried this one. But I hate coming in partway through a series, so I gave it a try. The story sounds superficial and trite, but I've read many Young Adult books that rise above seemingly-simple stories. Sadly, this isn't one of them. Characters bend and twist their personalities to fit the scene, having to tell the reader what they're feeling instead of being able to show it through consistent actions. Everyone tends to be pleasant when approached in the right manner, except for a few not-nice people who are suitably punished for being unkind to the heroes. The world and the magic system are paper-thin and about as deep. Conflicts and resolutions, much like personality traits and half the conversations, pop up out of thin air, and tend to the obvious - not unlike Baker's shallow stabs at humor. If I were a young girl just starting to read longer books without pictures, I might have liked it, but this book holds absolutely nothing to interest anyone else. I actually thought about dropping this to a solid Bad, but it's just too simple of a story to care that much about it.

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