I picked this book up rather randomly off a library shelf based on the title. Though the cover art did not do much for me, I liked the promise of an interesting story that the blurb held, so I took it home. I’ve been on a bit of a YA kick lately – but have been disappointed by how formulaic the newer YA stories have become lately. Princess Ben, however, was something rather unique.
I really enjoyed this book – despite it being told in first-person (not my favorite). As it is sort of memoir-style, the past tense helps the first-person not be terribly annoying.
In an era when it feels like every new YA book is following a set “formula” it is incredibly refreshing to find one that steps outside of the mold. (besides it being told in first-person by a female character… it really did step away from the formula when it came to plot/story/characters)
This is not your typical love-triangle, macho heroine (who we’re not sure why she has two fabulous boys fighting/swooning over her), survival-of-the-fittest type stories.
Instead, Ben (Benevolence) is a reluctant princess, who at first gets everything wrong. She eats too much, she has no manners, she refuses to learn anything a princess should know, and she ends up putting her country in great peril.
Along the way, she learns some very hard lessons – mostly about herself – and has to make a concerted effort to change. This change is hard won, and comes about after great personal danger and trial. However, when she puts her mind to it, she shows herself to be quite capable of being – if not the perfect princess – then at least fully competent, intelligent, and able to learn from her mistakes. Which is why the reader will end up growing to love her.
Although here is a romantic aspect to the novel it is one of those slowly forming, subtle romances that comes rather reluctantly to the two main characters. There is nothing inappropriate or offensive about the way the relationship is told or the way it unfolds between the two characters who eventually end up falling in love. And I must admit, it was quite pleasant to read a YA novel with a bit of romance in it that will not in any way incite its readers to pick a “team.”
I gave the book 5 stars and would definitely read it again.