To read more of my 2018 Caudill reviews click here.

May and Libby were best friends. They met on the playground entertaining the smaller kids with their chalk drawings and stories of their made-up superhero, Princess X, who lived in a haunted house with her katana sword and converse shoes. May tells the stories and Libby draws the pictures. The girls got together all the time and kept binders of their character sketches and story arcs.

One day, May is informed that Libby never made it home from gymnastics practice because her and her mother were in a car accident. They drove off a bridge and both drowned. May is devastated and tries to recover the Princess X binders only to find that Libby’s father has fled town and donated everything in the house to Goodwill.

In the current day, May is now sixteen and still friendless and grief-stricken. As she is walking around town, Seattle, one day, May sees a Princess X sticker. It looks like those stickers that skateboarders and bloggers stick all over on light poles. But the image is definitely Princess X. And there is a URL at the bottom. May starts to follow clues in the now web comic and begins to believe that Libby may be alive after all. That is when all the bad stuff starts to happen. Yes, I used the word stuff, because I don’t want to give anything away.

This is a slightly scary thriller/mystery involving May, her geeky sidekick Patrick and a whole lot of trouble. Part is told like a regular book and parts include the webcomics as clues. While I really loved this book, I wouldn’t have put it on the Caudill list (4th-8th grade). I probably would have put it 8th grade plus because some of the characters are so psychotically horrible. But hey, if your parents will let you read it, you will probably love it. It’s a little slow at first and then it just intensifies in pace until you think you can’t take it anymore. Seattle lovers will like the large role setting plays in the novel.

Why I wouldn’t use it as a Caudill ****SPOILER ALERT***

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the book, the crazy guy’s daughter has bone cancer. Libby’s bone marrow was tested in elementary school when they were looking for matches for her sick classmate. So, Libby’s results are in the hospital database. The crazy guy is a coder that runs a server farm in his basement, and the hospital has space on that server. The guy finds that Libby is a match to his sick daughter and asks the family to donate bone marrow. They say no. The guy shoots Libby’s mom who drives off the bridge into the water and dies. The guy breaks into the sinking car and saves Libby, but he kidnaps her and tries to get her bone marrow. Libby wakes up in the hospital and runs away. The police tell Libby’s dad and May and everyone that Libby died in the water but they didn’t find the body. May holds out hope. Libby’s dad leaves devastated. Libby calls from a pay phone for her dad to come get her. The dad tries to get Libby but the crazy guy shoots him too and leaves him in a dumpster. Libby thinks her dad never showed up. Libby runs away to the police and the crazy guy collects her, telling the police that she is unstable, sick and making things up. They believe her and let the police take Libby back. Libby decides to not tell anyone else for fear they might be killed too. Therefore, she doesn’t try to contact May. Libby runs away and makes friends with a homeless boy she names Jackdaw who helps her put her webcomic online and mask its IP address. Libby leaves clues only May can decipher (maybe) on the webcomic so they can collect evidence against the crazy guy and save her. Meanwhile, the crazy guy “the Needleman” is looking for Libby and anyone connected to her… and not to keep them alive. So, needless to say, a little much for 4th graders, right?