Thursday, April 2, 2009

The President's Daughter

image from Ellen Emerson White's website

A new, old series by Ellen Emerson White

The first three books in this series were published in the 1980's (hence the old). When the fourth (and final?) book was published in October 2008, White updated the first three and republished them (hence the new).

The premise is that Meg Powers' mom is the first woman president of the United States. That means that 17 year old Meg and her younger brothers move to the White House, get a security detail, deal with the press, and deal with threats to their mother and themselves. I'll do a quick summary of each book. I don't think I've listed any real spoilers (especially not something you wouldn't get from a book cover), but you can skip the summaries if you're worried.

The first book: The President's Daughter features the campaign and the first few months at the White House. We get to know Meg's snarky personality. She's pretty funny and it was fun getting to know her.

The second book: White House Autumn is the rest of the first year in the White House. Meg's mom survives and assassination attempt, and Meg (and family) have to deal with it: The fear, the increased security (and lack of privacy), etc.

The third book: Long Live the Queen starts with Meg preparing to graduate and head off to college. Unfortunately, she is kidnapped by terrorists and ends up in the fight for her life.

The fourth book: Long May She Reign begins about 3 months after the kidnapping. Meg is damaged, both physically and emotionally and she's trying to gain back some semblance of a life.

I really liked the first three books a lot. They aren't fantastic, but it's a story I totally fell in to. I am positive that I would have devoured this series as a teen. Lots of drama (the violent (but not graphic), suspenseful kind) mixed with a little politics. Love it. I read each in a little more than a day. I just couldn't get enough.

The characters, especially Meg and her family are well developed. I loved their imperfect and realistic relationships. The balance the president tries to find of being the leader of the free world and also a mother. I also enjoyed watching them grow and change as each new crisis was thrown at them.

I didn't love the fourth book as much. It's long. Like 700 pages long (twice that of the other three books), and I just don't think it needed to be. There is a lot of talk about the pain Meg is in, how tired she is, how difficult it is for her to continue functioning. While I realize that this is completely realistic to the situation, it just got boring to read after a while. She never let us forget. The book is a bit more political, there is no doubt which party the Powers family supports. While I don't really care, it just felt unnecessary to the plot. More like a statement that we should know and believe.

There is also a dramatic increase in the amount of swearing (there's lots!) and she and her boyfriend seems to have a relationship based solely on physical properties with lots of innuendo and dirty talk. I will admit that I'm a prude, but it made me uncomfortable, and I thought detracted from the story. Meg is strong and smart. I can't really picture her with such a shallow jerk, though I will admit that he did at least try. Sometimes.

There are some real interesting new characters, and I did enjoy getting to spend a little more time with Meg, the Powers family, Preston, et al, but I am not 100% sure that one must read this book in order to complete the series. It was originally written as a trilogy.

So, for my two cents: if you enjoy some politics and a little suspense (the third book is quite suspenseful, and gritty) the first three are definitely worth checking out. The last one was enjoyable but the language, etc was a bit much for me.


Laura H said...

I usually only skim reviews. I dont want to know too much about a book. But you said something i agree with. " I love their imperfect and realistic relationship"

I crave that in books. I wish more Christian/LDS books had that. Charatcters that always say the right thing just drive me nuts.

KT said...

I prefer realistic relationships too. Even if it means there is fighting, or poking, or whatever (in this case it means some swearing). At least I can picture it. You know?