During my preteen and teenage years, I had my library card memorized so that I could more efficiently log into the online portal to look up books, reserve books, and check to see when my books were ready to be picked up. That’s how often I read. As such, I logged many hours reading YA (Young Adult) books and feel deeply in love with that genre/demographic/market.
As I started taking more collegiate level English courses, I felt this pressure to be classically well-read and started seeking out books like “Jane Eyre”, “The Count of Monte Cristo”, “Wuthering Heights”, etc. I felt like in order to continue my love of reading into my adult years, I needed to earn my place at the Grown-Up table of literacy and leave behind the books about teenagers.
While I did gain some new favorites (“Jane Eyre” is definitely in my Top 3), I also didn’t read as much. I lost the love of reading. It kind of started to just seem like a chore. There’s so much to be gained from the classics–that’s why they’ve passed the test of time–but it’s more mentally challenging. It’s harder and takes more work.
The past few months, I’ve decided that I want to focus more on the quantity of reading I’m doing rather than restricting myself to some elitist booklist. My goal right now isn’t to be Rory Gilmore– I just want to read and enjoy it.
Over Thanksgiving week last year, I found myself skimming through the books offered on KindleUnlimited to find something light and fun to read. It was then I stumbled upon a book called “The Hundredth Queen” by Emily R King. It was listed as YA fantasy and a nice fun read about royalty just made my heart swoon so I downloaded it.
It definitely met all of my expectations for light and fun!
At one point, I had to put my Kindle down and take a break because I just couldn’t handle it. I remember going into Dean and my exact quote:
“This book is ‘The Bachelorette’ meets ‘The Hunger Games’ meets ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’!”
With beautiful mythologies and cultures derived from Eastern traditions, ‘The Hundredth Queen’ tells the story of a girl named Kalinda who is shockingly chosen by the fearsome Rajah Tarek to be his hundredth wife. He has made his decision, but now she has to earn the title. Before the wedding, there is a competition where the already-wedded wives can challenge one another to improve their rank, and the courtesans can challenge Kalinda to take that final coveted spot of honor. Her one support is her palace guard Deven–who is so kind and so VERY handsome.
It’s fun. It’s light. I instantly texted my Mom and sisters and told them to put it on their ‘To Be Read’ lists. It’s all of the catty drama that you can’t pull your eyes away from on ‘The Bachelorette’ with the high stakes drama of ‘The Hunger Games’, with some supernatural secrets sprinkled on top. Those are very different flavors that I wouldn’t choose to mix together, but they work in this story. One of my biggest takeaways is that I really enjoyed how the romantic subplot was handled. It was a good premise on it’s own, and Kali’s relationship with Deven only strengthened it rather than bearing the weight of the plot.
One note I will make is that I felt some of the descriptions and detailing could have been stronger. For some reason, I felt like there was a layer of fog that I wasn’t quite able to break through for pristine details. But to be completely candid: that could have been just due to my own distractions. I noticed it in ‘The Hundredth Queen’, but I didn’t notice it in the sequel ‘The Fire Queen’, which I read immediately after I finished.
It’s not a book with deep thematic meanings that I would use in my curriculum if I were to start teaching high school English again, but I wasn’t looking for that kind of experience either. I wanted a book that would capture my love for YA, and this book absolutely delivered on that.
There are now 3 books out in the series: “The Hundredth Queen”, “The Fire Queen”, and “The Roque Queen”. The last book in the series, “The Warrior Queen”, will be out in August. I’ve read the first 2, and ‘Roque Queen’ is in that ever elusive ‘To Be Read’ pile.
I’m pretty hesitant on which authors I choose to follow on social media, but Emily R King is absolutely wonderful. She is all about female empowerment and has beautiful insights into the YA demographic. She’s also teasing little tidbits for her next series, ‘The Evermore Chronicles’, which she has advertised as a genderbent Pinocchio with some pirates. I’m intrigued to say the least. She’s definitely an author I’ll be following for a while.
The link to ‘The Hundredth Queen’ is HERE . It is available for free on KindleUnlimited right now and Amazon frequently runs deals on the Kindle version for those people that don’t have Unlimited.
What are your favorite YA reads? Let me know in the comments!