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EMPRESS OF THE WORLD by Sara Ryan Kirkus Star

EMPRESS OF THE WORLD

By Sara Ryan

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-670-89688-8
Publisher: Viking

In a love story that breaks the usual rules (“There’s two girls and a boy, but they’re not in the roles you’d think they’d have”), Ryan has written an almost too-perfect awakening story. Nic is studying archaeology at a summer camp for academically gifted students. For the first time in her life, she discovers a group of friends surprisingly similar to herself—periphery kids who aren’t loners but who don’t quite fit in. In addition to Katrina and Isaac, Nic meets Battle, “Beautiful Hair Girl.” The four quickly form a tight-knit group, but it’s Battle who steals Nic’s thoughts. As the lines of friendship blur, Nic and Battle struggle with a relationship that is almost as difficult for them to understand as it is for society. Even in an environment that respects her intellectually, Nic once again finds herself on the outside. Ryan uses a language that not only understands teenagers, but also illustrates respect for them. She also accurately represents a variety of reactions to Nic, from outright hostility and moderate wariness to neutrality and complete support. Seeing eye-to-eye with her characters, Ryan neither patronizes them nor builds them up. Both controversial and long-awaited, this helps to fill a need that is painfully obvious in YA literature and introduces a wonderful new voice. (Fiction. YA)