Review: The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson

17910573Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Release Date: February 11, 2014

Pages: 304

Format: ARC

Source: Publisher via RandomBuzzers

Genre(s): Realistic Fiction, Contemporary

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From a former CIA officer comes the riveting account of a royal Middle Eastern family exiled to the American suburbs

When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations? 

J.C. Carleson delivers a fascinating account of a girl—and a country—on the brink, and a rare glimpse at the personal side of international politics. 

My Rambles

Special thanks to Knopf Books for Young Readers and RandomBuzzers for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

For me, The Tyrant’s Daughter is a book that I haven’t read anything like ever before. It was raw and filled with emotion, a modern and young take on conflict and war. It isn’t so much about what happens on the battlefield, but more how actions that others make, can have a massive affect on people’s lives, and the actions that one takes to make things right.

Laila is a fifteen-year-old girl who is a part of a very controversial family in her home in the Middle East. She’s royalty, but has fled from her home after the death of her father. The book follows Laila as she overcomes the hardships of adapting to life in a different country, and juggling her new reality with her ever-present old one.

The book was written beautifully! I found myself reflecting on some passages that stuck in my head, and I did mark two quotes that I really wanted to share. Quotes have been taken from the ARC version of the book and may have been changed in the final publication.

“I trace my finger along the spines of the books as I wander through the stacks, as if the correct one might send out a signal, or perhaps even leap into my hand. Far from feeling discouraged when no such thing happens, I’m intrigued. There are so many mysteries in these books, so many stories both happier and more tragic than my own, and for a moment I’m tempted to pluck one from the shelf at random just to escape in its pages for an afternoon” (30).


“I’m experiencing my new life through fathoms of water, making everything seem dreamlike and unreal, as if my own brain can only accept so much change before it drowns” (61).

The ending was left completely open, but I did have a sense of closure after completing it. I liked how the author chose to end it.

The Tyrant’s Daughter is a realistic look at war, and the lengths that people go to protect their family and friends. No matter what genre you prefer to read, The Tyrant’s Daughter is a book that everyone will be sure to enjoy.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥



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