This story was an interesting one. I actually liked it a lot and the entire idea of Rove city is very interesting. The characters were easy to follow and overall there wasn’t too much wrong going on here. However, what sorta brought the book down was the one point prevailing through it all that didn’t hold much weight. El’s idea about not being able to go above her station which hinged almost entirely on some sort of evil deception from the prince.
One other plot thing was how her Stepmother didn’t seem quite narcissistic enough. I get that she loved her daughters, however, the argument over one of them getting a job fell flat. If, indeed, once she was old enough for their tax arrangement to change they were not rich enough to afford their lifestyle anymore, the idea of her not literally forcing her to get a job seemed odd. For her, status is everything and I can’t see someone with her agenda taking a chance of her status plummeting because of a lazy daughter. Her love of her children combined with her hate of El just didn’t outweigh her own personal motives. Anyone that self-centred would never allow something to get in the way of their dreams.
Also, there was this plot angle about her bosses son liking her. It went nowhere. He, and his friends, ended up doing what good friends do so it wasn’t even necessary for him to like her. It placed some sort of expectation like is he gonna cause trouble with her love for the prince. Is this a love triangle story? And I hate love triangles so that wouldn’t have ended well. But nope nothing. It literally went nowhere and it would’ve played of better had he just been a true friend. I honestly don’t even know why this was mentioned if it wasn’t going to go anywhere.
The treating El as a slave worked for a while but even with low scores which are important to status in Rove, she had a full paying job. One that her boss respected her talents at. Even if she could never climb the social ladder, she definitely could’ve taken that paycheck and been a poor resident living in a room only say 12X12 feet with the additional space going to a small kitchenette and shower. She didn’t come off as the type of girl who in her early 20s could be guilt-tripped into thinking she had to stay. Without her paycheck, her stepmom would be in serious trouble. Even if she did try to ruin El’s life, hers would be too.
And to the main point. So the prince, RI, didn’t come out with the fact he was the prince. El was doing the same thing not wanting him to know her scores so she’d be more appealing to him. There was no real deception going on. When she found out who he was the anger the betrayal none of that was warranted because even in real life you don’t reveal your whole life’s history on the first and second date. What if it never passed that point?
This was complied by El constantly thinking he would never want her. How does she know this? I mean the guy gave her a rose that only royalty is allowed to have. He broke serious protocol for her. She could actually get him in trouble. That’s power there. And it was all a game in her mind? How? They didn’t even have a real fight when she found out who he was and later, when she was refusing to enter the pilot competition, he insisted she enter. Got out of the transport, walked up to the door and addressed her personally. Like there is nothing, like zero her stepmom could do if she accepted a request directly from royalty.
Lastly considering the pilot competition, considering her circumstance it’s almost inconceivable that El wouldn’t be plotting to use this as an escape from her horrible living environment. She doesn’t want to be there and this could be her only escape and not once, even if she didn’t follow through, did she consider escaping. This entire story was based around her thinking she’d forever be what she was and she had zero drive to get out of it. Even with all the evidence the prince wanted her, even knowing she had some of the best flight simulation scores ever, and her newfound friends telling her she had the best chances to win, and, plot spoiler here but not so much cause we know this is going to happen, even after winning she runs away. At that point she has literally escaped. The queen wants the best and she is the best, even El would know a little bit of subterfuge to get in would be easily overlooked.
This story loses a star because of this plot angle. It was too obvious the prince liked her and there was no real deception. He told her his real name gave her an illegal rose, met her twice before the reveal, was nothing but smiles at the reveal and fought on her behalf to get in the competition. None of this is the actions of a guy playing games. This is directly connected to the fact the whole story is centred around a pilot competition that he helped organised and El never once thinks this is my chance to leave my evil stepmom behind. There wasn’t any real betrayal considering she was also trying to hide who she was and running this plotline of prince vrs low-status vrs lack of will/drive to escape didn’t hold weight. Even in the Disney version of Cinderella she couldn’t wait to get out and even the prospect of going to the ball lifted her spirits. She made her own dress for the chance to go but this El did nothing.
If it wasn’t for the fact this one thing that involved both the prince and the competition was driving the story this might have been five stars. It was an interesting and well-written story. But the lack of desire of El to escape her situation when the chance arose, coupled with her magically finding betrayal after only two meet and greets that was great enough to actually make her angry, didn’t quite make sense and unfortunately they had to for this story to work.