Teen Lit: Long Live the Queen by Ellen Emerson White

Long Live the Queen is the third book in the President’s Daughter series by Ellen Emerson White, and while I never read the first two I found it pretty easy to jump into the thick of things: Meg Powers’ mom is the president of the United States, and recently was shot. While she’s recovered now, the president still lives with the pain from her wound, and Meg, along with her two younger brothers, have to deal with the beefed up security that prevents them from doing a lot of what they want to do, like Meg’s tennis. Even while it was easy to get into, the beginning of the novel was a little boring, and I actually went a couple of weeks between reading the first couple of chapters and the rest of the book. I picked it up again, and finally got to the part where Meg’s secret service agents are killed ans she’s kidnapped, and suddenly everything picked up.

Aside from the kidnapping scene, there isn’t a lot of actual action in the book. Meg is locked in a room, not given any food or water, and is assured by her kidnapper that he will, inevitably, kill her. As Meg is locked up, starving, the novel begins to take place in her head, and we begin to almost primarily read her inner monologue as she thinks about dying, the pain from her injuries (not only are her teeth ripped out, but her kidnapper breaks a variety of her bones), worries about her family and ex-boyfriend, and struggles not to blame everything on her mother. Later, her kidnapper chains her up in an abandoned mine and leaves her to slowly die.

There were quite a few interesting things about this book. First, that White doesn’t shy away from letting her main character get hurt – the kidnapper doesn’t just hit her, he dislocates her kneecap – something which authors are usually too afraid to do. Then, there’s the way that Meg gets away: I won’t spoil too much, but not only does Meg escape on her own power, rather than getting rescued, but she does it through a pretty big sacrifice. Finally, Meg’s kidnapping and torture doesn’t even take up half the book.

You would think the climax of this story would be when Meg finally gets away, but there’s still nearly 200 pages of story after this happens. Obviously a lot of drama comes from the time in which she was tortured, but it also comes from her recovery. She has to heal her physical injuries, as well as overcome her fear, depression, and general apathy toward life. I sped through the chapters where Meg struggled to survive, but I was just as rapt by this part, where she struggled to want to live.

Ellen Emerson White overdoes the interior monologue a bit, and the beginning of the novel is a little dull. (Also, I get it, she’s from Massachusetts, she likes the Red Sox, OK, stop saying that.) Also, many of the injuries she gets made me squirm in my seat, so if your even a tad more squeamish than I am, you might have a hard time getting through parts of this book. But once this book takes off it really grabs you. I don’t know that I’ll go back to the first books in the series, knowing what will happen to Meg, but I’ll probably seek out the fourth one.

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