Our first book for the Girl2 series is The Girl Who Would Be King, a novel about two girls with super powers. Bonnie Braverman and Lola LeFever have never met, but they are bound together by the same ancient power. They are reverse images of each other, one dedicated to good and the other to evil, as their mothers and grandmothers have been for centuries–but this generation will be the one that changes everything.
This book and I have been on quite a roller coaster together. I loved the initial chapters, which I read on Amazon prior to purchasing the ebook. Then the plot sagged for me in the first third, and that plus the poorly handled teen sex scene almost made me stop reading. Luckily, I plugged on. Things started to pick up shortly after the midway point and I read like a crazy obsessed person all the way through the end.
Tread carefully; this review could have spoilers (depending on what you consider a spoiler).
BONNIE v. LOLA
Thompson does a really great job of giving Bonnie and Lola dimension beyond their goodness or evilness, although admittedly, she does it better with Lola than Bonnie. Bonnie is quiet and sweet for most of the book. By the end, she grows into a mature and determined champion of good, trying to find compromise with Lola up until the last possible moment. Though this is a fairly typical good-guy arc, Bonnie shines in the role. Though her power is predicated on goodness, it’s not always a given. It’s easy for Bonnie to be selfless when she has nothing of her own to care about, but as she forms a life for herself outside the orphanage where she grew up, she struggles with her commitment to being a superhero and her desire for a normal life. She’s a very genuine narrator. I also really enjoyed reading her chapters because I felt that the pace of her story was more realistic.
Lola. Lola, Lola, Lola. I loved her introduction. She definitely comes on the scene in a big way when she, you know, pushes her mother off a cliff. I didn’t so much enjoy her sojourn in Las Vegas. The immediate admission to a crew of thieves was a little too convenient, and as you may already know, the sex scene between Lola and Adrian really grated on my nerves–especially since it was not necessary. Lola does not have any plot babies, and for me, Adrian’s betrayal would have been just as impactful without the unprotected sex. Maybe that’s just me. But Lola really comes to life when she starts to take over L.A. I love her relationship with Liz, her therapist-turned-right-hand-man. Lola’s strength as a character is really her no-holds-barred approach to everything she does. She is a wrecking ball of a villain, totally unstoppable until her own obsessions tear her apart.
I really like the way Thompson describes the girls’ abilities. Bonnie and Lola are immortal (that is, they can die, but always come back), they’re super strong, and as they experiment with their power more, they learn to do things like fly and heal themselves at will. They’re like Wolverine, except their bodies are smarter. What’s really great about it is that their powers are exactly the same. Lola pushes hers to the limits faster than Bonnie as part of her need for more power, but once Bonnie sees what Lola can do she catches on fast. The fact that the two girls have the same abilities highlights the differences in their motivations and how they approach situations. Bonnie tries to do what’s right. Lola does whatever the hell she wants.
The mystery of their powers seems to imply that the girls’ goodness and badness are inevitable, but I think that for Lola in many ways it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I would have loved to see her reform and take to violent vigilante justice–the Punisher to Bonnie’s Superman, if you will. Perhaps such a question will be addressed in the sequel.
I feel like this book could have been really, really amazing–like, impossibly close to perfect–with just one more good edit. The first half drags a bit, and some of the secondary characters (cough Clark and Adrian) could have been fleshed out more. But the second half of the book is completely worth any minor annoyances you may or may not experience while reading. My love for this book has been like a stick of dynamite with a long fuse. It snuck up on me, and now I am eagerly awaiting sequels and movies. Also, I want to play Bonnie in the movie.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Recommended for: Everyone, especially people who loved the Buffy/Faith storyline.
Buy it here! Seriously, it’s $3. DO IT.