Empress of the world

by Sara Ryan

Paper Book, 2003


While attending a summer institute, fifteen-year-old Nic meets another girl named Battle, falls in love with her, and finds the relationship to be difficult and confusing.



Call number



New York : Penguin, 2003.


User reviews

LibraryThing member Phantasma
Our library system actually categorizes this book as ADULT fiction, but it truly is young adult fiction, if not for older children. Not only is it about 16 year olds, it's written in a teen-friendly manner about issues that teens might face.

This is essentially a novel about identity and labels.
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Not only would I recommend it to teens who are questioning their sexuality, but I think it would also be good any one to read. It's nice to know that you're not alone with your struggles, and younger people tend to need that reinforcement.
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LibraryThing member mcivalleri
Review: Empress of the World (romance)(high school)
The story is about Nicola (Nic), who has some new experiences at a summer camp for gifted students. The first thing that struck me about the book, was how SLOW it moves…especially in the beginning. I am not sure a young person reading this book
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would have the patience to wade through it. Maybe I’m being overly critical, and maybe the things that the characters say would be more interesting to a younger person than it was to me…but I don’t think so! Often times the author gives us a lot of unnecessary detail…a lot of detail!
That said, things do get a little bit more interesting at some point, as Nic finds that she has some feelings about a girl that she meets named Battle. It deals with her confusion, as she is surprised that she has feelings for a girl, when in the past she has had feelings for only (mostly) boys. Since the story is given in a combination of first person (of Nicola) and her journal entries, you get to hear the intricate details of her thoughts and feelings as this happens.
It was hard to read because the author would use language that real girls don’t use…I don’t mean curse words or anything, just the phrases she used…they seemed like they were from another era, only something an older person would say. That made it seem more contrived. But once in awhile she has the protagonist say something that is quite pretty, and it doesn’t seem to matter, like “…violas in good voice sound like expensive chocolate tastes, rich and swirling and complex. And that’s the kind of moves she made, all loose arms and light, long legs, and I knew, just for a minute, what music was for.”
Nicola has the need to analyze everything, try to explain things, label them, put them all in their place. Her subject in school is Archeology and the way she is having to put the pieces and shards of the artifacts together to decipher past civilizations mirrors the way she tries to categorize herself and her feelings. But Battle is not like this, and prefers to let things happen, and not judge or label.
As their “romance” progresses, the girls (Nic and Battle) openly show their affection. This shocks some, and even elicits some negative comments (people saying “dyke” as they pass). But Nic’s problem is not about the people who are watching, but with the fact that Battle and her have a “parting”. Battle has a sort of fling with a male friend of theirs. This devastates Nic. She talks a lot about her feelings with the other friends she’s made there. She spends much time after this lamenting her loss. But before the end of the book, they end up talking, and in the final scene kissing and talking about the possibility of them going to the same college.
The book is not really too explicit, but it does suggest that the girls do more than kiss. I read one review on this book that said that it only mentions that the girls kiss, nothing more…but I guess that person didn’t read page 131 where she says “…hands and mouths moving over each other…”! A librarian would want to consider whether they think this is appropriate. But it’s not really that explicit.
This would be a good book, particularly for people who think they might have homosexual tendencies. I’m sure they would feel less alone in their feelings. However, because it deals a lot with the main character’s emotions…and because the focus is on the affection and the pain, not just the fact that the relationship is a same-sex one, all teen readers will be able to glean something about relationships from this book. In fact, a side story is about one of the boys and one of the girls, who end up together as a couple in the end. So the “lesbian” aspect of the book isn’t overwhelming or overly played…the author realizes that in any relationship, gay or straight, you still have the same problems, joys, and hopes, and the author seems to have made it that way on purpose.
I didn’t love the book, but it might appeal to some students, and I would put it in my collection.
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LibraryThing member kpickett
Nic is a junior anthropologist and loves to label objects, people, and herself. Nic is pretty sure what category she falls under when she heads to a summer camp for gifted and talented students. But when Nic meets Battle, an attractive southern belle with a distaste for labels, Nic has to rethink
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everything. The two have a budding relationship that will make Nic consider the importance of labels and what hers might be. An interesting take on young lesbian love, this novel is not very well written and hilarious at times (but doesn’t always intend to be).
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LibraryThing member spinsterrevival
I enjoyed this book, although not as much as I thought I was going to. Even though the point of the book was Nic and Battle's relationship, I had a hard time seeing it come about because as the story is told from Nic's POV, she seemed to be pretty circumspect about falling for Battle until she hits
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us over the head with it. It was nice to see the easiness of the relationship and the fact that Nic didn't really care about labeling it--very refreshing.
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LibraryThing member MrsSClass
This book is about two girls who fall in love. You can understand the anger and jealousy of the characters.You would want to read this book if you like things that you don't see very often.
LibraryThing member readingthruthenight
Know what would be really cool? If I could go back say twenty years and head out to a summer camp for gifted kids. Oh yeah, I could sign up for cool seminars on archeology, classical music theory, and other -ologies or theories. Which already makes this an uber cool book because that's exactly
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where it takes place.

Nicola ends up at Siegal Institute's Gifted program over the summer to explore her interest in archeology. She ends up making some friends while there, a pretty cool geeky group actually. One new friend is Battle, this gorgeous North Carolinian who has major hidden issues.

And then there's summer love. Unexpected summer love. (But I probably led you to the the unexpected part, huh?) Nicola and Battle end up realizing that they are into each other more than friends. This happens to be a first for them, since neither has had a girlfriend before.

I really dug this book. Not only did the characters remind me of the good ole WB18 days of Dawson's Creek and Gilmore Girls, but the interactions were so right on real. I loved how Nicola questions her feelings toward Battle and it wasn't just a quick "oh yeah, I'm into her" realization. She has this moment where she thinks back to who else she's liked, realizes that it's been both boys and girls, and viola we have an ALMOST bisexual character in YA lit. (I've only seen a bisexual character in Brent Hartinger's books).

Plus there's not any HUGE I will love you forever moment when summer comes to an end. Yay for Honest and Delivery.

There's a sequel out and I have it on my PBS wishlist. Fingers crossed.
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LibraryThing member readinggeek451
At an academic summer camp for gifted teens, Nic makes friends for the first time and, confusingly, falls into love with one of them, Battle.

LibraryThing member VikkiLaw
The good: Being intelligent, going to class and taking your studies seriously is seen as a good thing.

The good: Acknowledging that, in most school-type situations, kids who demonstrate intelligence and take their schoolwork seriously are usually the lunchroom and social outcasts.

The good: The
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author acknowledges that you can be super-smart *and* dress like a weirdo (or like Weetzie Bat).

The bad (which is bad enough that I took a star off of this):
Of the 4 friends that the protagonist makes, the ONE kid of color is not only spacy, but self-absorbed. He also becomes the Bad Guy partway through the book.
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LibraryThing member aliterarylion
The description I wrote in my book journal was huh?
LibraryThing member Salsabrarian
At a summer college program for gifted high school students, Nic experiences her first lesbian relationship with Battle.
LibraryThing member elenaj
Frothy and lightweight, but sweet.


Lambda Literary Award (Nominee — Children's/Young Adult — 2001)
Oregon Book Awards (Winner — Children's Literature — 2002)
Best Fiction for Young Adults (Selection — 2002)


Original publication date



0142500593 / 9780142500590
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