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Empress of the World (Battle Hall Davies #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  11,992 Ratings  ·  451 Reviews
Nicola Lancaster is spending her summer at the Siegel Institute, a hothouse of smart, intense teenagers. She soon falls in with Katrina (Manic Computer Chick), Isaac (Nice-Guy-Despite-Himself), Kevin (Inarticulate Composer) . . . and Battle, a beautiful blond dancer. The two become friends--and then, startlingly, more than friends. What do you do when you think you're attr ...more
Paperback, 215 pages
Published May 26th 2003 by Speak (first published August 27th 2001)
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willaful For me, it depicted playful teenage interactions in a way that was so much like my high school years, and which I rarely see in books. YMMV.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
May 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-and-liked, ya
I have no idea what Nic supposedly did wrong. Hell, I over-analyze all the time! What's wrong with it? NOTHING. She was just asking a damn question, Battle! Shut your damn mouth!

Sorry. Sometimes I become somewhat of an advocate for certain book characters.
Agatha Donkar
Aug 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
As with pretty much everything I read, I found the ending to this a little unsatisfying, a little too contrived in too short a space, but the path to the ending was well worth it. Nicola, the narrator, is a sharp, funny, observant kid, even in her own confusion about her sexuality, and Battle is both a fantastic foil and a fantastic love affair for Nicola. The dynamics and the emotions in this one rang very true for me on all levels.

It pleased me to learn, just recently, that Sara Ryan has writt
Apr 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Empress of the world by Sara Ryan is a very moving meaningful story that deals with very touchy subjects. Such as love, friendship, and finding yourself. This book should have more exposed due to the fact that now a days teenagers have to deal with these kind of things more and more in todays life style and society which is so open and free to whatever. This country's youth should be more educated of these things.

Empress of the world is about two young girls and how they spent there summer at Si
So. This is the second review in a row in which I did not have my thoughts completely together in the beginning of my writing it. Does this mean my opinions are getting more complex? Or does it mean that I'm getting bad at reviewing?

So, anyway, this was an overall cute, fun novel. It was one of the first to paint LGBT characters in a positive light, when these kind of novels were just starting to become more normal. I thought that I would have to remind myself constantly that parts of the novel
Jul 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtq, young-adult, 2016
3.5 stars

I think I might be getting a little old for YA. I mean, I'm a young adult. But I'm not a Young Adult . So that's probably why I didn't like this as much as I may have a couple years ago.

The characters were rather bland and generic but still moderately likable. Also, pretty sure Battle Hall Davies was a precursor to John Green's "mysterious" female love interests.

The dialogue flowed well and it was at least interesting enough to make me read a majority of it in one sitting. I kept expec
May 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
There’s a hole in popular young adult fiction, specifically romance. I’m so tired of the typical boy girl-boy love story that is so pervasive in YA lit.

Where are the teen lgbt stories? Not the one where the hetero girl has the flamboyant, all-knowing, gay, male friend that helps her through her romantic crisis, but the one where the protagonist is experiencing their own crisis, with someone of the same sex. I’m not saying that these stories don’t exist (Will Grayson, Will Grayson / Blue is the W
Jun 01, 2013 rated it liked it
It was an enjoyable read, but it didn't have much of a plot. There really wasn't a whole lot going on in this one. It was interesting and was easy to sit and read almost cover to cover, but at the end I felt like nothing was ever accomplished.

There were a few story threads I was invested in which were just never followed up on or resolved. This was rather disappointing.
Stephen Arvidson
Author Sara Ryan deftly captures the sweetness and uncertainty of a young girl’s first love in her 2001 debut. Empress of the World celebrates adolescent romance and budding sexuality in all of its sticky, modern complexity.

While studying archeology at an academic summer camp, fifteen-year-old Nicola ‘Nic’ Lancaster becomes embroiled in an on-again, off-again romance with the implausibly named Battle Hall Davies, a beautiful North Carolinian wildflower with electric green eyes, blond hair, and a
There's not one thing that makes this book good. It's a bunch of smaller things that I really liked that made it into a book I'd recommend.

Nicola, the main character, is a likable character and certainly relatable. She's knows she's not gay, she knows she's not straight, but she feels uncomfortable with the bisexual label. She gets bullied because of her relationship with the Battle. She has a lot of different interests and talents- theatre, music, art, a touch of science. She has friends but n
Rachel Brown
Jul 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Two high school girls have a romance while they're taking college classes at a summer camp for gifted kids. The only way this could have possibly been more up my alley would have been if "gifted" was in the "Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters" sense.

Nicola, amateur artist and aspiring archaeologist, narrates the book in first person, with occasional excerpts from her diary, also in first person but with a different typeface and no capitalization. This may sound annoying, but it's actu
May 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read this book in nearly a day. It has won various prizes in young adults category and reading it I can understand why. If you are a teenage and looking for a romance suited for your age then definitely go for it.
I'm not teen aged any more but can realise the appeal that this book can have for this very delicate age group. It is simple and straight forward where everything is all or nothing.
Everything revolves around a particular event. Everything is Important. Yes there is tomorrow or the f
rating: 3/5

The plot reads basically like so many teen books/movies these days. Students at an academic summer camp spend the summer figuring out their futures and themselves. This is where Nicola meets Battle and a friendship develops that leads her to question her sexuality and her life.

Nicola is funny and witty as we enter her mind and navigate through finding her academic interests and romantic feelings for Battle. The story is short and easy to read. It is composed of an interesting mix of
shana naomi
Jul 10, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: queer
so far i like it -- i was inspired after having read Bloom to try more YA, especially if they have good queer subplots or storylines. but all i found at first were the uber-boy ones, like Rainbow High. this feels more like a smart kid South of Nowhere so far.

now that i'm done: i liked it okay -- a nice unfolding of the story and teenage angst, a lot of kids who sounded like actual people and not marketing demographics. the end was kind of abrupt and overall just ended up feeling like a "one ti
Nov 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A little while back, I was rummaging through Amazon to find lesbian teen novels and fell on Empress Of The World. I found the cover so beautifully poetic and evocative that I immediately bought it. The story is beautiful, the characters endearing and the story-telling wonderful! I searched for other novels written by Sara Ryan and realised that she had written a companion novel to Empress Of The World, The Rules For Hearts. This second book is different from the first and brings different themes ...more
Wren [t(he)y]
This review can also be found at http://fortheloveofbooksreviews.blogs...

Nicola is taking a summer course in archaeology at the Siegel Institute, because she wants to make sure that archaeology is really a field she wants to go into. She expects that confirming her dream of becoming an archaeologist will be the focus of this summer, until she meets Battle.

Battle is beautiful, a minister's daughter, and soon captures Nicola's heart. While helping her new friends deal with their own issues, Nico
Bridgette Davis
Mar 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book was a lot better than I anticipated. The summer college program is represented well and I think would make most kids want to attend one. I also like the lack of certainty in the characters - very believable. The plot moves really quick (a little too quick for me) but at the right pace for student readers who are likely to become board.

I read this book in one night & didn't really put it down! It's a great little love story and the sequel should be good.

Nic is a girl who I definite
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
I didn't expect to be moved by this book, but I had higher hopes for it. It's always nice to see LGBT representation in books, but in this book, it did nothing but aggravate me. As a lesbian, I like being able to relate to characters but this book just frustrated me. People are always so fast to put labels on things, and this book was not an exception. It seemed most of the time was spent wondering whether Nic was straight or a lesbian. She liked Battle, she was a lesbian. She liked Issac, she w ...more
Sep 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
My favorite book ever! (So far, that is.)
As someone who would like to eventually study sexuality & gender identity, this was one of my first literary forays into the world of queer-&-questioning youth, which interest me particularly, as I am one myself.
Ryan's writing, especially her character description & development, is so good that I immediately picked up many of protagonist Nic's mannerisms & qualities, which I can see in myself still to this day.
All in all this is a beautifu
Apr 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
What can I say, I actually really liked this young adult book. This book in particular, because it's a coming of age lesbian story.
If I had even a clue about this book when I was a pre-teen I wouldn't have been so confused growing up. Well maybe, I'd still be confused but atleast I'd have something other to read than Sweet Valley High.

I wouldn't be suprised if this book turned into a movie. hmmm, now there's an idea . . . . I better get that screeplay going.
Jen Steffens
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well written, and a great love story :)
Stephanie A.
I was incredibly enchanted by the setting of a residential academic program on a college campus -- the beginning was so atmospheric I felt like I was there -- and at first all the characters seemed cool, but the magic gradually eroded as I noticed a) Katrina was awful and Isaac was dull and b) the writing seeming very, for lack of a better word, point-and-click; things would be thought or implied but then stated outright to make sure we didn't miss them.

And then the warp speed romance (see stat
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Review originally posted at Books Worth Remembering

I should probably start of by saying that I borrowed Empress of the World from my local library, although I had seen it in there previously. The first time I saw it was a good couple of years ago, after reading the blurb I instantly put it back – Why you may ask. Because in my younger and more vulnerable years I was an idiot. I didn’t read many ‘issue’ books, especially about sexuality because at 13, I was stupid and thought that by reading some
Kim Dyer
Apr 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed-on-blog
I guess it's important to start by noting that this book was revolutionary at the time it was written. There are still woefully few books starring a bisexual protagonist, especially in the YA market. Empress of the World was written at a time when female/female romances usually ended in death and was bold enough to present a realistic romantic fling between two teenage girls.

However, reading this novel 15 years later, it's not fantastic. There are some things about it that I really liked. Nic is
Educating Drew
Dec 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011, ya-love, lgbt
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 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 actual
Jul 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Young Adults that enjoy LBGT Themes
I read this books several years ago when I was in high school and trying find out who I was, finding my identity. At the time I found myself really enjoying this book and it continued to bring me back to other YA novels with LGBT themes.
I decided yesterday as a pile of old YA novels toppled down from the top of my closet that I should give many of them another go. The last one I happened to pick up to put back in my closet was Empress of the World. Instead of putting it back I sat down and bega
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq
Empress of the World was a wonderful, heartwarming story about a girl falling in love.

The book is told from the perspective of Nicola Lancaster. She spends her summer taking part in the Siegel Institute Summer Program. For the first time in her life Nicola finds true friends. She meets Isaac, Katrina, Kevin - and Battle. They get to know each other during the introduction speech and quickly become good friends. But Nicola discovers she might be falling in love with ... Battle.

I thought Nicola h
Jan 12, 2013 rated it liked it
After finishing another young adult novel exploring the LGBT spectrum, I was looking forward to this one. I had heard about it previously and was expecting to enjoy it more than I did. I found that the writing was done well and the actual layout and idea of the book was fine and didn’t discourage me as much as the actual plot or exploration of the idea did.

Character arrives at a camp for ‘gifted’ students (a camp that, in my opinion, needed more explanation). Character falls for another girl. Ch
Sofia Antonia Milone
Dec 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lesbian, teen
HFAB, Lesbian Romance, Teen
Narrative POV/voice: First Person, Character, Protagonist
Narrative time: Present tense

I really enjoyed this book, the characters are interesting and well developed on the whole. And broad. The extended edition I read however really spoiled this experience for me because it's size masked where the ending should be. Thus as I read what I thought would be the ending, I was convinced I still had 1/3 of the novel to go, giving me a false sense of prediction. Only to discove
Jun 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
Really underdeveloped. I was left feeling angry at the narrator and the author for not telling us more, for not diving down beneath the surface and having the characters talk about anything really important (and when they do it's so short lived I can't count it), for not letting us get to know anything about Battle (THE MOST IMPORTANT CHARACTER SUPPOSEDLY), for writing a book without any plot or hills/mountains for the characters to conquer, for writing a "storyline" that I just couldn't BELIEVE ...more
Abby Connor
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Eh this wasn't awful, but it wasn't very good either. I think I might have liked it better if I hadn't just finished Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe because come on what could compare to that book? But the relationships in this book just felt really forced to me and the characters felt very one dimensional. Katrina I flat out hated. She was all kinds of yuck and offensive. A lot of the other characters were cruel like her too and I hated that. And like, I can enjoy unlik ...more
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I write books and comics for teens and others. Reviews and star ratings make me anxious, but I'm reporting what I read here.
More about Sara Ryan

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Battle Hall Davies (2 books)
  • The Rules for Hearts (Battle Hall Davies, #2)

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