The Tyrant's Daughter, by J.C. Carleson

Monday, 9 June 2014

The Tyrant's Daughter, by J.C. Carleson

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery

Rating: 5/5 stars

Publication: February 11, 2014, by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Format: Hardcover Edition (borrowed)

Goodreads Summary: From a former CIA officer comes the riveting account of a royal Middle Eastern family exiled to the American suburbs. 

When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations? 

J.C. Carleson delivers a fascinating account of a girl—and a country—on the brink, and a rare glimpse at the personal side of international politics. 


"It's not quite a Hollywood kiss. It's tame and sweet-- chaste, even-- and it's over too soon. I want more. So I kiss him."

  When thinking about books that have been stated as a must-read for all teenagers or kids, you probably think-- classics. Sure thing, Little Women and The Catcher in the Rye are all amazing, but there are many new modern books that are surely classified as must-reads for all teenagers, and I must admit that this one is.

    No one has ever read a book like this before. It's a total unique story that comes from a great author who actually has experience with these sort of situations. Being a CIA agent and all, she has created a beautiful coming-of-age story that is absolutely one to remember.

     Laila moves to Washington D.C. with her mom and her little brother who supposedly one day will become king of their country. Her family flees from war and after her dad died. Since Laila speaks English fluently, she quickly fits in and makes friends at her new school and starts a whole new life, but her past still haunts her. Will she ever find out the truth behind her dad and her parents' past? 

      I originally expected this to be a story of terrorism and suffering, but in one way, it is absolutely not even close to that. This is Leila's story, Leila's sufferings and Leila's past. It's nothing about the war, or her dad, it's way more than that. The whole book is in Leila's POV, and she did a stellar job at it, which we'll get to in a second.

        From the beginning, Leila's voice is strong, and you just want to keep on reading so you could see what will happen (but it's not really that suspenseful) and how Leila's personality will change and grow into someone confident and who knows what she wants. The plot was very fast paced and we got to know the characters and setting very quickly and it became so easy to relate to because we live in the society that Leila went to go live in. I can imagine what a huge change it was for her and her family to come to a place where there is freedom, and where everyone is expected of different things. In her country (which is never noted throughout the book) everyone suffers and most of the time go through the same sort of situations. Here, it's totally different. So, yes, this was an absolute action-packed mystery, in a way, but it's more realistic and contemporary than you have ever seen. It's something that was never done before and something that is sure to remember.

         By the way, I feel like I won't use gifs in this review because of the subject matter, and how serious and different it is, although you will be able to tell my feelings throughout the review, just like you always do.

          Like I mentioned, Leila was absolutely amazing. She was so independent and didn't have to rely on anyone-- even when she just immigrated to a whole new country where everything is different, and even when her father's corpse still lies at the home she has always known. I loved her and I wish all coming-of-age protagonists were like her-- she was truly someone to remember.

           Every character had something special about them. I loved everyone, but I truly shipped Leila with Ian. They were meant to be from the beginning, and it was an absolute love at first sight relationship. I know that he would protect her, love her and respect her no matter what was going on with her family. And that's beautiful to read about-- a young love that is so deep beyond words. So yes, the ending did sadden me with Leila's love life, because in the US, her life just began, and then it sadly ended like that, but at least she was happy in the end.

             "Ian seems surprised at first, but then he's kissing me right back, and there's nothing chaste about it. I wait for the kiss to erase the day before, to wipe away Amir's words. It doesn't, though. It just makes them even more complicated. Kissing Ian makes my here even more different from my there, and the nagging feeling that I don't deserve this sweet respite from my past pricks at my brain. I press against him harder, and the guilt grows fainter."

              Oh, and yes, by the way, there is a love triangle in this book. I'm not going to say I hate Amir, because I don't, but I see Ian and Leila together forever.

               In conclusion, this book was amazing. It's a must-read for every teenager out there. It has a mix of everything, including love, and it's a special read that will give you a break from mainstream books. 

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