The Tortall books by Tamora Pierce are a young adult fantasy series; if you've never read a Tortall book, this is the best one to start with because it's the very first in the series. I wish I had found these when I was a teen, but they're very enjoyable to read if you're an adult, too. :) Oddly enough, even though this is the first of the Tortall books and I've read almost all of them, I don't think I've ever read this particular story arc.
Alanna: The First Adventure is no exception to the enjoyable read rule; it's a fun, fast read and definitely leaves you wanting to get onto the next one. The story involves the heroine Alanna disguising herself as a boy in order to become a page while her twin brother goes off to become a sorcerer; her goal is to become a female knight, but women aren't allowed to be knights. Fortunately this plan (mostly) works out, but I won't give away what happens. I love all the character development and growth Alanna goes through as the book goes on, as she becomes more comfortable in her own skin and begins to see that she's just as good as the male pages. (What can I say, I'm a sucker for strong female characters.) Like all the books in the series, the characters are wonderfully written; I always grow attached to Pierce's characters, and this time was no different.
The only slightly bad thing I can say about the book is that it reads a lot more like a children's book than the later Tortall books; maybe this wouldn't have been so obvious, but I read one of the later books recently. This isn't bad, really, but it's just something I noticed as I was reading. It seemed the most obvious at the start of the book where everything works out a little too pat and perfect when things could have gone wrong at any point. Still, I guess it's not too hard to pass as a boy when you're an eleven year old tomboy (as someone who was a tomboy teen, I can relate), so the fact that Alanna's plan fooled people isn't too strange.
I also noticed a lot of typos in my copy of the book (mostly quotation marks that were missing), but this is more something an editor should have caught or something messed up as it was being printed than a writing or story problem. I'm probably overly nitpicky about this kind of thing, though.
Overall, this was a fun read and I really like Alanna. I think I'll give this book 4 stars out of 5; if the next book in the story arc is as good as the second part of this book, then I have a feeling that one will get at least a 4 1/2. :)