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Publisher's Summary

Nicola Lancaster is spending eight weeks at the Siegel Institute Summer Program for Gifted Youth, a hothouse of smart, articulate, intense teenagers. She soon falls in with Katrina (Manic Computer Chick), Isaac (Nice-Guy-Despite-Himself), Kevin (Inarticulate Composer) . . . and Battle.

Battle Hall Davies is a beautiful blonde dancer, and everything Nic isn't. The two become friends-and then, startlingly, more than friends. What do you do when you think you're attracted to guys, and then you meet a girl who steals your heart?

©2001 Sara Ryan (P)2008 Penguin

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Tony
  • Rich Creek, VA, United States
  • 11-28-10

Story: Promising, Characters: Lacking

This was a cute 'lesbian awakening' or perhaps, 'bi awakening' since the main character never really decides on that one. The story itself was interesting, but I felt like the characters were lacking somewhat in emotional depth: or rather, that the emotion was not properly conveyed. There were several scenes where the main character was quite upset, but I didn't really feel sorry for her due to the way the story was written. Even though this was a young adult book, that didn't mean that the characters need be flat. I also felt as if the characters seemed younger than their ages (15-16) and that their attitudes felt them seem like younger people. People at this age tend to be extremely intense, at least from my experience, and the relationships and interactions felt pretty shallow and frivolous to me.
What's more, I had a lot of trouble with the narrator. While she did get into her work, the characters are supposed to be 15-16 and really she sounded more like a 12 year old. Her reading style made the few scattered curse words sound garishly misplaced. I this this contributed to the lack of emotional depth issue.
All that aside, it was a cute story, and someone else might very well love the narrator's way of conveying the story. I liked 'Annie on My Mind' much better, but I would still say this story is worth checking out if you don't have anything else in mind.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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About Empress of the World

Would you try another book from Sara Ryan and/or Lauren Davis?

I would try another book from Sara Ryan. She writes well about being a teenager.

What could Sara Ryan have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

This book was definitely for kids. I was looking for intrigue or mystery

Which character – as performed by Lauren Davis – was your favorite?

Katrina was my favorite character.She wasn't afraid to live her life on her terms.

Was Empress of the World worth the listening time?

The story was well written, that made it easy to stick around to see what was coming next. it was quick, but seemed to end abruptly

Any additional comments?

Great book for those coming of age, but I wanted more intrigue.

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Narrated by a 12 year old

Story was pretty flimsy and light hearted. The characters lacked depth, I didn't really get invested in them because not very much was established. Ending was pretty lacking as well.

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  • zenabuff
  • Hell sometimes called Kentucky
  • 04-05-16

Very Good teenage lesbian awakening story!

At a Camp for gifted young teens a want to be archaeologists discovers her first crush. But are her budding feeling felt by the other girl? Or is it all in her head, come on the journey to find out.

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  • TENA
  • PITTSBURGH, PA, United States
  • 11-26-14

No real strong feelings either way

Would you recommend Empress of the World to your friends? Why or why not?

No. I might suggest it to a younger-ish (the swearing might prevent me from suggesting it to the age of reader that I think would truly enjoy the story) reader or to an LGBTQ young adult reader.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

I really struggled to listen to the performance. The character is supposed to be in high school, but the narrator's voice sounded so young that I kept picturing this 12 year old girl telling the story and it just didn't fit well. With a different story, I would have enjoyed the performance but with this book, I struggled to finish listening.

Any additional comments?

Deciding on a headline for this review was quite the challenge--after listening to the book, I feel totally neutral. The story wasn't bad, there were some sweet moments, but it was just completely flat. There some books where I will think about the characters, the story, and the "what's next" for weeks after I finish... this book, as soon as the music started to play, I was ready to move on to my next book. I was never really connected to the characters--I felt like they were not really well developed so I wasn't all that invested in them. Even now, just shortly after finishing the book, I struggle to recall the details of each character--they made that little impression on me (or we simply lacked a well-developed picture of the characters). The story was predictable in that I knew the trajectory and ending from the early chapters--which is always disappointing. The book was actually a bit boring--nothing really happened--there was little to no fanfare about discovering her feelings for another girl, the obligatory conflict was muted so there wasn't much drama at all, and the ending was bland.I did like (whether by design or accident) that there was little drama about them being gay--they felt comfortable holding hands and locking arms in public and except for a couple people calling them dykes, it was a non-issue. I also liked that this book didn't have a tragic backstory and had a happier ending--many of the LGBT geared YA books seem to have this doom and gloom story line that doesn't end well. I like these more positive messages for younger readers.So, the book wasn't bad, it just was blah.

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A very simple story about a young girl dealing with the revelation that she is gay, at least when it comes to a particular girl she meets one summer.

I say simple because the story follows the exact path you suspect it will. There are no surprises, you'll know how it ends from page one and yet it fails to build the tension or even dread a 'tragic' (no spoilers - I use the term loosely) story usually would.

Unfortunately, it also never really tackles the big issues of teenage homosexuality or coming out.
That can be a good thing - a straight up gay romance not mired in self-doubt or loathing is a great thing for a young GLBT teen to be able to read but Empress is ABOUT the big issues, the doubt and confusion the revelation causes so it's light approach made it feel lacking in reality and depth.

All I can say, writing this review a year after reading it is...average.

It’s not bad (which is sadly a pretty high compliment in todays YA landscape) but it also left very little impression.

(As an aside, the focus on the character “Battle Davis” – not the protagonist but clearly the one the author cared the most about makes the story very uneven. The fact the second in the now ‘Battle Hall Series’ focuses entirely on her, in an unrelated setting and situation just makes the choice weirder!)