In The Tyrant's Daughter, J.C. Carleson creates a fictional country patterned after a dictatorial country in the Middle East. Laila, the protagonist, is the daughter of the recently assassinated dictator and her family has been evacuated to the United States for safety. Coming from the sheltered life of the palace and a country filled with poverty, Laila struggles to adjust to the opulent lifestyle of the United States. Laila also realizes the rest of the world had a very different view of her father. While Laila tries to live like an ordinary US teenager, she continues to be caught up in the political unrest and treachery of the country she fled.
Through the eyes of Laila, Carleson presents an interesting view of life in the United States as well as life in the home of a dictator. Laila's fellow students call her country's customs and beliefs barbaric, but only she recognizes the horror in a fake bomb threat called into the high school. She recognizes the privilege and excess that most teens take for granted. The story is intriguing and fast-paced, but Laila's expanding world views make the book more than an adventure novel. The Tyrant's Daughter is a good read for lovers of intrigue, but also provides insight to current political issues.