Although I've seen The False Prince as being billed as a book for younger YA/older MG audiences, I think it's written in such a way that anyone can enjoy it. I would probably place it more in the YA genre than the MG one, but I can definitely see how this would be an appropriate novel for younger audiences. The plot moves along at a decent pace, and there aren't big words that could cause younger readers to struggle with the context.
I thought Nielsen's world building was great in this novel. Once the world was pretty established, she continues to incorporate details that make it a rich and exciting place for the story to take place. At times, I felt like I was walking the halls of Connor's extravagant home and that Sage's world was actually real.
Nielsen did an excellent job of creating an aura of mystery about Connor and the missing prince. How does Connor know the prince is dead? Is he really dead? Why is Conner so intent on saving the royal family and placing someone on the throne? What about the servants - how much do they know and do they support Connor's plans if they know about them? I also liked that we are presented with just enough information about Sage's background to make us believe that we know enough about him. I felt like Nielsen kept the reader as in the dark as Connor about the boys he had chosen to train to become prince.
I do wish that some of the minor characters had been given more focus in the novel, as I would really have like to know more about the other three boys competing against Sage. Why don't they fear Connor as much as Sage seems to? What do they really think of this whole thing? I also found myself wondering about Mott and Cregon and how they ended up as Connor's servants. Especially Mott, since he's more compassionate and helpful than Cregon. The juxtaposition of the compassionate, honorable soldier (Mott) with that of the ruthless, cruel soldier (Cregon) was one of my favorite character comparisons in the book.
Although I was pretty sure I had guessed the big reveal before it happened, it was really interesting to be thrown into a completely different narration style for a little bit in order to be given the whole story. I really enjoyed that, and I liked how it disrupted the story in order to introduce a crucial plot point. It was kind of similar to the way the life of the involved party was disrupted.
With a few more answered questions, The False Prince could have been a great standalone novel. As the beginning of a trilogy though, I'm really looking forward to what happen next with Sage, Imogen, Mott, Tobias, and all of the other characters from this novel. I would give this book a 4/5, and recommend it to fans of YA fantasy and mystery novels.