Title: Empress of the World
Author: Sara Ryan
Narrator: Lauren Davis
Publication Year: 2001
Pages: 224 (audio length: 4 hours 55 minutes)
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com
From the cover:
Nicola Lancaster is spending eight weeks at the Siegel Institute Summer Program for Gifted Youth, a hothouse of smart, articulate, intense teenagers. She soon falls in with Katrina (Manic Computer Chick), Isaac (Nice-Guy-Despite-Himself), Kevin (Inarticulate Composer) . . . and Battle.
Battle Hall Davies is a beautiful blonde dancer, and everything Nic isn’t. The two become friends-and then, startlingly, more than friends. What do you do when you think you’re attracted to guys, and then you meet a girl who steals your heart?
This is another book that I wouldn’t have heard of were it not for the Literary Others event this month. I’m really stumbling on some great books this month, by and large. And this is definitely a book that I would recommend to school libraries and individual students once I’m back in Canada.
What I liked most about the book: the characters. They all had something a bit quirky about them, particularly Katrina, who made me laugh. I loved that they were both sure and unsure of themselves – more of a reflection of the real teenagers I’ve known than of most teenagers in books that I’ve read. And I particularly liked that the book was more about the relationship between Nic and Battle and the ways that they (and people around them) responded to it, and that it wasn’t a book where everyone knew who they were ahead of time, or even at the end. It was more about the curiosity of exploring who you are, than about any established identities or desires.
I liked the narrator, she brought out the youth of the characters in the way she voiced their dialogues (and Nic’s inner dialogue), but wasn’t too overly enthusiastic, which can sometimes happen in YA books. The audiobook was well-paced and didn’t have anything extra going on, which I also like.
If you’re looking for a “coming of age” novel that doesn’t quite fit the same formula that you’re used to, give Empress of the World a try. It was a fun read.