Title: Queen and Commander
Author: Janine Southard
Summary: On a world where high school test scores determine your future career, six students rebel. A pair of star-crossed lovers plot to stay together, rather than be separated by the system's college plans. A former off-worlder instigates: there's a ship in orbit, he says. We could take it and run away. But to take the ship, the three conspirators need more friends. Enter Rhiannon, the girl who set herself up for the ultimate success on this planet. She made sure her test would give the desired result: Queen. But her best friend begs her to take control of this plan to run away. So she drafts a would-be doctor who believes in following his Queen with all his heart. She finds a genius who can't seem to make the system work for him. And then she gets them qualified for the ship in orbit. The ship to freedom. Now what will they do with it? And was freedom what they really wanted?
Excerpt Winning a ship means surpassing the competition. The three competing Queens swiveled their heads, hare-quick, to home in on new prey. They’d ignored her until she’d made that noise. Now they had the scent of fresh insecurity and would peck away until they laid her meager confidence bare for the massacre. “What a sweet little girl,” gushed the one in red. “Where’s your mother?” Dead, actually. Well, if this Queen planned to come after her for her age, she’d show her appreciation in the way only a younger person could. She raised her eyebrows and furrowed them down the middle, then pulled her head back onto her neck as though repulsed or doing a proper sit-up. From the way the older woman cringed back, Rhiannon knew she’d succeeded in making the derisive Did you seriously just say that to me? face that she’d seen on her more critical peers. A teenager can out bitch-face you any time, Queenie. Don’t try that tactic with me. The eldest cocked her head, more curious than cruel. Perhaps she found it as difficult to gauge Rhiannon’s age as the other way around. As far as Rhiannon knew, this woman had been one of Dyfed’s first Queens, self-made and just as untrained as herself. “Why do you think you deserve Ceridwen’s Cauldron?”
About the Author
Janine A. Southard writes speculative fiction and videogame dialogue from her home in Seattle, WA. She sings with a Celtic band and is working on the next book in the Hive Queen universe. She’s also been known to read aloud to her cat. The cat appreciates all of these things. Maybe
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I'm still pretty exhausted, after just finishing my last semester a few days ago. Nonetheless, I will offer what paltry words that I can manage to type about this book. I really wish I had more energy to write about this novel. Perhaps, I'll write something expanded, when I get the time.
With the hype not set to die anytime soon for Hunger Games, there is a mad scramble for desperate readers to find something equal to the engrossing quality of that stellar series. No, Queen and Commander does not come exactly close to that high standard, but there is still plenty to be entertained by. The novel really is something fun, and points of the story has some very amusing, eccentric developments. Having finally gotten off the tiring slog of running on the analytic-treadmill for English majors, this fun novel with great banter, well-constructed characters, and an inventive story-line was the perfect antidote for English major burn-out. It's really just one of those handy YA novels that is neither too frivolous or too complex, but it has the right dosage of action and adventure to give anyone with a crazy, frenetic schedule a book that reminds them books have therapeutic benefits.
With that said, it was probably unfair to make that latter comparison to the Hunger Games. Queen and Commander has a plot that is differentiated enough to make it completely different in tone and style from that story. I was only using that very well-known book as a way to recommend this book to anyone, who feels that they haven't found anything worthwhile or entertaining to read in the YA section after reading Hunger Games. So, grab a cup of coffee (wine/beer for those like myself, who are over 21), and start giving your brain the break it deserves. (Okay, I'm speaking mostly for myself here).