Nobody’s Prize by Esther Friesner
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 3/5 stars
In the sequel to Nobody’s Princess, the continuation of Helen of Sparta’s coming-of-age story returns. Her brothers, Castor and Polydeuces join Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece and Helen is determined to accompany them on their journey with her friend Milo. Disguised as a young boy, there are many battles, with her quest becomes a catalyzing moment for her future as the Queen of Sparta.
An action-packed re-telling of Helen of Troy, Nobody’s Prize by Esther Friesner is a coming-of-age story filled with suspense, love, and ancient heroes. The story begins with a young woman on a journey derived from the Golden Fleece myth, alongside the Greek Hero Jason. The coming-of-age story embraced Greek mythology through characters including her brothers, Castor and Polydeuces, who have a much more intriguing role in this second novel, where they show more personality and connections to their sister.
The suspenseful voyage further delves into complex situations, including the realm of puberty, Helen’s growth into a woman, and new responsibilities. However, this is where the book faltered as the suspense was lackluster compared to the first book. The mythology being told loses its magic and the story began to drag as she continues to briefly encounter characters from stories of old. Helen is depicted as a cunning princess built from legends and redefined with a modern twist but her journey encounters adventure after adventure never delving into detail about any of them. In the beginning, the story is constructed well as she dresses as a weapons bearer, and in a world where men and women are viewed differently the reader experiences both sides of expectations and how Helen fits within these roles. A retelling of an ancient myth Nobody’s Prize places a new light on a character often described within a specific role with little regard to exploring who Helen was before she was Queen of Sparta.