*ARC RECIEVED FROM NETGALLEY IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW*
When fairy tale obsessed Lottie Pumpkin starts at the infamous Rosewood Hall, she is not expecting to share a room with the Crown Princess of Maradova, Ellie Wolf. Due to a series of lies and coincidences, 14-year-old Lottie finds herself pretending to be the princess so that Ellie can live a more normal teenage life.
Lottie is thrust into the real world of royalty - a world filled with secrets, intrigue and betrayal. She must do everything she can to help Ellie keep her secret, but with school, the looming Maradovian ball and the mysterious new boy Jamie, she'll soon discover that reality doesn't always have the happily ever after you'd expect...
Undercover Princess is the first novel by Youtuber Connie Glynn and whilst it is by no means a masterpiece in literature, it is a very fun and enjoyable read. Here, we follow Lottie who has won a scholarship to the prestigious Rosewood Hall school and gets roomed with Ellie, a rebellious, very unprincess-like... princess. Ellie wants nothing to do with her royal duties and, after a mix up with people thinking Lottie is the unknown princess, decides to have Lottie continue pretending to be her so that she can live a normal life.
Marketed as a 'Young Adult' novel, this book is definitely being sold to Connie's youtube demographic as this book definitely falls flat when comparing to others of similar ilk. I had an inkling early on that I was going to be reading something slightly more juvenile so I have rated and will review this book as though it is intended for a younger demographic - advanced middle grade readers and younger teens.
As I was provided with an unfinished copy that was still in editing I will not be providing any quotations and I am unaware of how much more editing went into the book before publication yesterday so I must stress that I can only review the content I was given and thus will aim to review the book more broadly than I would a finished copy.
First of all, I must say how pleasantly surprised I was with this book. I honestly expected it to be... worse. Scratch that. I expected it to be bad. And it wasn't - it was actually quite good. Now, I'll be honest and admit I'm not a fan of Connie in that I've never watched any of her videos (except the one about being hit by a car) so I don't know much about her and her reasons for writing this book. I do believe from reading it that there was no professional ghost writer like some other youtubers out there (Yes, I'm still bitter about Zoella)
There are definitely bits and pieces in this novel that felt rushed and underdeveloped but overall it does feel pretty well thought out. There are multiple mini plot lines going on through the book which I give kudos to Connie for handling well. They all fit in and are seamless: it doesn't feel at all like they're being shoved in to create drama which can often be quite difficult to avoid!
One of these plot points was a bit of a mystery involving some puzzles and riddles and I was SO FOR IT. I was so ready for sneaking around the school and solving it and it having something to do with the other mystery surrounding Lottie and Ellie but suddenly it was exam time so they couldn't do anything and then all this royal drama began and the book ends with nothing more said about this puzzle until Connie mentions in the acknowledgements that we'll find out later on in the series?? Like nooooo. It was literally a tiny, unimportant mini/side plot and you abandon it to resolve in another book. No thanks.
As I mentioned, this book is marketed as YA but it definitely feels more middle grade, with the exception of thesaurus words (aka, 'Oh I can't just say big so I'll say "gargantuan" fifty times - seriously. I can't stand when people use a more obscure word in place of a common one that they found in a thesaurus and just use it every time. I mean, you already opened the book - there's got to be at LEASE two more options to switch it up!)
There were numerous hints at a romance blossoming between the two girls and I was SO KEEN for two girls to get together but nope. Nothing. I mean, maybe this is just the foundations for it to occur in the next book, or the next but the way those two girls are and how they act etc is more obvious than the majority of YA romance novels so if they don't get together then pffffttttttt. I ship it, OK?
I think this is a love it or hate it book. There are definitely underdeveloped aspects which, if you're not a fan of the book in general will just really bug you, but I just got into the zone of reading the book for what it was and found I really appreciated it and enjoyed it although I do think that's because I had seen some previous reviews stating it is more middle grade than YA so I read it as a 9-14 year old rather than 21 year old me.
Overall, I hope this book had some more time and effort pumped into it before release but otherwise it was a good, enjoyable read and I think it would be something incredible for a little ten year old who is obsessed with fairy tales and princesses to read. I can seriously imagine a little girl devouring this like we did with Harry Potter (not that this is anywhere near comparable. Nothing is, but you get my point. Rereading over and over and unable to wait for the next book). I can tell this was a labour of love for Connie and, although I don't plan to buy a finished copy and see if there were any major changes etc, I would not say no to picking up the second book!