Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson

Genre: Contemporary
Rating: ***
Pages: 280
Laila used to be the princess of an unnamed middle eastern country. Then came the coup. With her father dead, she's forced to flee to America with her mother and brother, Bastien, seven year old King of Nowhere. Now she struggles to adapt to a normal life of homecoming dances, American football, and joke bomb threats. But Laila can never leave her memories of home behind. As the horrors of her father's regime blare at her from the television Laila is forced to confront the truth. Was her father really the kindly king he claimed to be, a ruthless dictator?
As mentioned before, Laila's homeland is unnamed. Characters speak "my language" and eat "food from my country". Of course, the story can't take in any real country because it's fiction, but I wish the author could've slapped some name or another on this imaginary land. The character names-Laila, Amir, Yasmin-add exotic flavor without being unpronounceable. Though the jacket flap hints at conspiracy and CIA agents, most of the novel consists of Laila's interactions with her friends. They're stunted thanks to Laila's regal upbringing and standoffish personality.
Laila hears snippets of conversations by eavesdropping at doors and watched her mother wearily argue with the CIA. But it's not until two thirds of the way through the book that we get a vague idea of what's going on. Even then, Laila is a passive observer to a worldwide conspiracy. The most she ever does is snoop through her mother's paper and intercept an email. Light in conspiracy though rich in voice, The Tyrant's Daughter is a powerful, current novel for today's war torn world.

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