Growing out of YA? The Cruel Prince by Holly Black


I frequently refer to Alexx throughout this review! We buddy read The Cruel Prince together, which was a lovely experience. You can find her wonderful blog here, on which she talks about books and health.

I usually try to open my book reviews with a summary of what the book is about, but I’m finding that fairly difficult to do with The Cruel Prince. I think part of this was to do with how I was consuming the book – I was reading this book a little bit before bed each night so I was usually pretty tired reading it and wouldn’t make it too far before deciding I wanted to go to sleep. I’m writing this review just before taking the plunge into deep, hermit style writing before my university deadline season hits, so the tired brain is back again.

However, I think my mild confusion was also due to the way the politics in the book is handled. I got quickly muddled with the names of characters, particularly the royal family, which seemed to have a large cast of children who all wanted to claim the crown. Your best bet at a coherent explanation is probably the Goodreads synopsis here.

The basic premise of the novel is that we follow a girl named Jude, who has a twin sister called Taryn, and an older half-sister named Vivi. When Jude’s parents are murdered by Vivi’s biological, faerie, father, the girls enter into the fae world.

I definitely enjoyed this book, and I think that reading it along with Alexx made the experience really fun and kept me reading everyday throughout term time! However, I still feel in the dark when it comes to the hype surrounding this novel. Perhaps it’s because I read it in such a fragmented fashion, but I never felt particularly attached to any of the characters. I’m a huge fantasy reader, so I consider myself to be pretty good at suspending my disbelief for reading. I think where The Cruel Prince began to lose me was the dialogue, which was often too unrealistic. They didn’t feel like things that people would genuinely say out loud, and were a little too reminiscent of cheesy, inspiring one liners from action movies, written to be quoted.

Besides the speech, the other thing that didn’t sit with me was the romance. I told Alexx early on of my expectation for Cardan to become a romantic interest in the novel, but I just didn’t buy the enemies to lovers’ trope and found Cardan’s behaviour unforgivable.

I don’t want to sound entirely negative though, so one thing I did treasure was the sister dynamic in the novel. Whether their relationship was up or down, I found the interactions between Jude and Taryn to be interesting and unpredictable. I also really valued the queer representation that we were given with Vivi and look forward to seeing how things develop with her partner in the next novel.

Ultimately, I think The Cruel Prince was just a little juvenile for me. With the vast majority of my reading at the moment being for university, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to discern my personal tastes, as I have little control over the books I’m reading. This was a leap that didn’t quite click with me – however, I would consider myself engaged enough to pick up the sequel, especially as I had such a nice experience reading along with Alexx.

To keep up with what I read next, you can add my Goodreads, or to chat in between blog posts, check out my Twitter! Both linked above^

– hatterell


3 thoughts on “Growing out of YA? The Cruel Prince by Holly Black”

  1. I completely agree with you; it was definitely a more immature example of YA, but I still finding myself loving them! It was never I book I felt I could believe, but it still kept me excited. Can’t wait to buddy read The Wicked King, and maybe something else over the summer 😄xx

    Liked by 1 person

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