Cover image for Empress of the world / Sara Ryan ; introduction by David Levithan.
Empress of the world / Sara Ryan ; introduction by David Levithan.
Expanded edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2012.

Physical Description:
213, 15, [37], 24 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
General Note:
"First published by Viking, 2001."--T.p. verso.

Illustrations in supplemental material only.

Includes "A reader's supplement to Empress of the world ... featuring three [illustrated] stories by Sara Ryan about Katrina, Battle and Nic"

Includes an interview with the author, the author's "suggested book list" of similar titles, and the author's list of "some muscians I might or might not have been listening to at various moments during the era in which I was writing Empress of the world."

Includes an excerpt from the author's The rules for hearts.
Me and Edith Head / Click / Comparative anatomy
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
Material Type
Home Location
RYA Paperback Teen Collection

On Order



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 attracted to guys, and then you meet a girl who steals your heart? A trailblazing debut, reissued with an introduction by acclaimed author David Levithan, and copious back matter, including three graphic novel stories by Sara Ryan (and artists Steve Leiber, Dylan Meconis, and Natalie Nourigat) about the characters.

Author Notes

Sara Ryan is a librarian as well as the author of the sequel to this book, The Rules for Hearts , and the upcoming Bad Houses , a graphic novel illustrated by Carla Speed McNeil. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

While the characters in this first novel are not fully developed and the dialogue often feels clunky, Ryan nonetheless surpasses many of the trappings of stereotypical gay teen representations. At a summer school program for the gifted, anthropology student Nicola, or "Nic," pens everything in her "field notes," from over-scripted exchanges with her dimensionless new friends, like outspoken redhead Katrina and spacey music student Kevin ("It's like we're in a chat room and he's got a really slow connection") to painfully detailed descriptions of their clothes. Nic's driving need to label everything wears at her fledgling relationship with Southern belle Battle (tension comes to a head on their "two-week anniversary"). Ryan is to be applauded for taking this story beyond an identity struggle; at story's end, Nic is unsure if she is a lesbian or bisexual, but she comes to accept her feelings without having to label herself, and learns to tolerate outsiders' judgments. Mostly she grapples with the ordinary drama and traumas of teen romance. Ryan also does not shy away from describing the physical relationship between Nic and Battle (though nothing beyond kissing is made explicit). Her story unfolds slowly and, ultimately ends up feeling unpolished, but many teens will be drawn to the subject matter, and Nic herself is an appealing heroine. Ages 12-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

(High School) In her first novel, Sara Ryan proves a sure hand at writing about the intense emotional lives of fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds. The setting, a summer institute for gifted high-school students (dorms, no parents, no friends from home), is an ideal place to explore one's identity, especially one's sexual identity. In this girl-meets-girl romance, narrator Nicola Lancaster finds herself attracted to the beautiful Battle Davies. The feeling is mutual, and for both, it's their first same-sex relationship. Nic's uncertainty about whether she's lesbian or bisexual is believably conveyed. But the girls' break-up two weeks later seems contrived-Nic is supposedly too analytical for Battle's tastes, but readers hear about this trait more than see it in action. Nic and Battle's reconciliation is satisfying, though, and the book's authentic-sounding dialogue and strong emotions are convincingly realistic. In fact, the book mirrors real life a little too well, lacking the thematic development expected in fiction. The characters don't change much during the book's brief but life-shaking time frame, the conflict seems flimsily constructed, and extraneous details, though realistic, often serve no apparent purpose. That said, YA readers are sure to embrace the believable passions in this summer romance. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.