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- Discovery Awards
THE PRINCESS ELECTRIC
By Derek Silver
The market for Young Adult titles is littered with feisty heroines and dystopian realities and it is difficult to imagine how an author can bring originality to such a crowded genre – but with THE PRINCESS ELECTRIC, Derek Silver succeeds. Violet’s sister Karin is suffering with a form of early-onset dementia following a car accident which Violet feels horribly responsible for. In the early chapters of the book, we see Violet visiting Karin at a psychiatric hospital and Silver pulls no punches with the pain and terror which accompany watching a loved one drift away. Before we know it, Violet has fallen into the fantasy realm of Dementia which turns out to be not a disease, but “a reality”. She is taken under the wings of the Rememberists, a motley crew of renegades fighting for survival in a place where memories fade quickly and danger lurks around every corner.
Silver’s world-building is epic in scale and it can feel overwhelming at first, as the reader contends with an entirely new vocabulary and different rules about what constitutes reality, but it is quite a ride once we get to grips with it all. An especially clever device is Silver’s use of “twists”, which are real places and people that have twisted into Dementia, meaning that the settings can be as diverse as the Moulin Rouge, Central Park and a London pub. By opening up the world in this way, readers feel the thrill of recognition alongside the shock of whatever unexpected event comes next. Think ‘Inception’ meets ‘The Hunger Games’.
Although he assembles a wide and diverse cast of characters, Silver manages to ensure that very few of them fall flat. Our heroine, Violet, is convincing and compelling and we feel from the very first page that although she has been through a lot, she has great reserves of strength on which to draw. The almost obligatory love triangle with the Brothers Gloss works well, although in some ways it isn’t really necessary for driving the plot forwards. Through the extended metaphor of Dementia, Silver asks some thoughtful questions about forgetting and the pain of remembering, while holding on to a tightly-drawn plot. Of course, this is the first in a trilogy, so don’t expect a satisfying resolution of all of the loose ends, but there is enough here to take pleasure in as a standalone book. That being said, THE PRINCESS ELECTRIC is certainly enjoyable enough to reach for the sequel.
Derek Silver’s THE PRINCESS ELECTRIC takes its reader on an action-packed journey into the fantasy realm of Dementia, in a way which is both entertaining and thought-provoking.
~Amy Arora for IndieReader