Monday, February 6, 2017

Captive Prince by C. S. Pacat

Captive Prince (Captive Prince, #1)
Captive Prince by C. S. Pacat. Berkley, 2015. Paperback. 289 pages.

Well, this is quite a book. I think I liked it, but I'm still not sure, so let's dive into this review to find out why.

Captive Prince is an M/M book that seems to already be standing out and making a mark in its genre. This is an extremely explicit set in an exceptionally voyeuristic society with many blatant instances of abuse, sexual interactions, rape, and other forms of sexual undertakings, so if that sounds like something you don't want to read, then absolutely go ahead and skip this one. I completely understand that this book is not for everyone, and I 100% respect that. 

This book is heavy on the character development and political intrigue and rather short on action and an expeditious plot. The main character, Damen, has been usurped by his half-brother, and as result has been shipped off to a place called Vere, where he is now a slave. This is where the beginning of a long journey of character development takes places, since Damen, a powerful, dominant man who is used to doing anything he needs to survive, must now act submissively and in the role of the 'lesser' person, forced to obey and do anything asked of him with no complaint or argument. I found Damen's journey and development fascinating to explore, and I felt she handled each turn in character with an extremely deft hand.

Laurent is the other most prominent character within this book, and he is an arrogant jerk. It is easy to dislike him, but as the story progresses, we begin to understand more about Laurent and his life in a carefully planned out and interesting way. I'm not sure there was anything in this book that redeemed his actions, in my personal opinion, but I think he became a fascinating three-dimensional figure with many facets. Pacat writes her characters with such careful detail that it becomes hard not to want to keep reading to find out more about them. Where the plot lacks, the characters pick up in their interactions with one another.

The other area in which this book excels is its political intrigue. Though it is not quite as fleshed out and entertaining as I'd been led to believe, I was still impressed with the carefully crafted political mischievousness and deception that occurred. There were hidden motives and political maneuvers everywhere, which is part of what kept me hooked on this story.

Where the difficulty in my enjoyment of this book arises is in its potentially problematic subject matter. I'm torn on this matter, because I feel that one could argue these acts of sexuality and sexual violence are somewhat romanticized, but at the same time, I didn't personally interpret them as being  romanticized, so it didn't pose as large of a problem for me. Everything was indeed presented in a manner that seemed to convey the message that 'hey, these are horrible things that are happening and this is a pretty shitty society to boot,' so I didn't see the author as promoting this particular culture.

Overall, I found it hard to rate this book. Part of me really enjoyed the development of the characters and the guilty pleasure aspect of this book, but part of me also struggled with the message of this book and the sometimes slow nature of the story. In the end, I decided to give Captive Prince three stars!

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  1. I've seen people talk a lot about this book and the series. Mix reviews that reflect your opinion on the characters and other tough subjects. Personally, I don't think I would be able to read it but it does call to my attention the struggles of a character used to power and setting it aside to survive. Wish more characters were written like that in YA, it would be a nice change.

    1. Yeah, it's definitely not the easiest read, and very hard to classify or rate fairly. I wholeheartedly agree with the idea of having more characters in YA taking on those same traits; I think it would really make for some interesting - and realistic - stories.