Book Review: Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy by Gareth Wronski

Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy by Gareth Wronski is a middle grade novel. Holly Farb is not the Princess of the Galaxy. She may be top of the class in every subject, but she can’t even win a school election, never mind rule the Milky Way. The aliens who kidnapped her have gotten it all wrong. Unfortunately Holly’s alien pirate kidnappers believe that she’s the princess they’ve been looking for, and so she finds herself hurtling through space on an alien pirate ship together with her teacher, Mr. Mendez, and Chester, the most annoying boy in her class. Now all she has to do is escape the pirates, find the missing princess, and get back to Earth in time for her big test on Friday. But it turns out that space is a pretty big place, and before they can go home, Holly, Chester, and Mr. Mendez must face down space cruise liners, bounty hunters, giant worms, perky holograms, cosmic board games, sinister insectoid librarians, and a robot who is learning how to lie. Between running from space pirates, defying the President of the Universe, and meeting a host of rather unusual new friends, Holly starts to wonder if there might be more to life than being top of the class after all.

Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy is the adventure of one young lady that has never felt in control, but has always tried to get her attention by being smart- because that is what she is good at. All she wants is to be important, to matter, and she does not even seem to get that at home. When pirate kidnap Holly, her teacher, and the new kid the real adventure starts. I loved the twists and turns, and while I expected a twist as to who the princess was, that twist was only one of the several possibilities that I had considered. I liked that while I knew something was coming, it was not so completely obvious that it was my only thought. I also liked how interconnected, but unusual, some of the turns the story took. The only thing that happened that I completely expected was the President of the Universe's attitude when push came to shove. While Holly began as a pessimistic and self pitying character, her actions and thoughts were understandable and I liked how much she changed and grew as the story continued. Chester, while not what they seemed at the beginning, changed and grew with Holly. I think it was their relationship and changing understanding that really pushed the book forward, even more so that the danger and adventure from space pirates, asteroid belts, the criminal element in a dive bar, and more that they faced along the way. I really liked that even in the moments of highest drama and danger there was an underlying sense of humor and fun. I love a story that does not take itself too seriously, and this book hit the balance of fun, danger, and emotional growth very well.

Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy is a middle grade adventure with a coming of age story arch and sense of humor that appealed to me, and that I think will appeal to many other readers that have ever felt as isolated and 'other' as Holly. 
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