Book Review: The Runaway King
By Jennifer A. Nielsen
Summary Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?
(Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
The Runaway King is refreshing in YA books because from the first assassination attempt the reader knows it is not happily ever after for King Jaron. I also liked that Jaron had to runaway to preserve his kingdom; which seemed like a weak thing to do, but ends up being a good decision – well, maybe. Jaron has an internal conflict mirroring the conflict within his kingdom. Jaron doesn’t know how to lead or protect his kingdom or the people he loves. He also doesn’t know who to trust and how to develop trust. Jaron remains a smart-aleck and throws out one liners that are genuinely funny. As an example the snarky humor the tweens will enjoy; Jaron is speaking to his would be assassin: “So you joined up with the pirates? I couldn’t imagine anyone but the ladies’ knitting club accepting you.”
My least favorite part in The Runaway King is when Nielsen seems to be trying to make a love triangle. Yuck! I am deeply opposed to love triangles after reading and rereading the same tripe in all the most recently written YA dystopian novels. I am desperately hoping for less romance in a tween trilogy.
There are elements that are completely unrealistic – cough – the pirates. The pirates live by a code of ethics, like protecting their female servants. These swashbuckling pirates also have rules about who is the pirate king and who can claim a treasure. Nevertheless, I liked the pirate element and can see the author using them in the next book.
I believe the biggest problem Jaron faces is the fact that his kingdom does not accept his rule. They remember his antics as a child and believe him incapable of ruling the kingdom. His councilors do not believe him, that war is coming and stymie Jaron’s efforts to protect their land. Jaron needs the belief and respect of his people, the question is – how will he gain their support?
Though I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book, The False Prince, it moves along quickly and tween readers will enjoy it.
- the Mother