My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Goodreads: A series of natural disasters has decimated the earth. Cut off from the rest of the world, England is a dark place. The sun rarely shines, food is scarce, and groups of criminals roam the woods, searching for prey. The people are growing restless.
When a ruthless revolutionary sets out to overthrow the crown, he makes the royal family his first target. Blood is shed in Buckingham Palace, and only sixteen-year-old Princess Eliza manages to escape.
Determined to kill the man who destroyed her family, Eliza joins the enemy forces in disguise. She has nothing left to live for but revenge, until she meets someone who helps her remember how to hope—and to love—once more. Now she must risk everything to ensure that she not become... The Last Princess.
My thoughts: Regretfully, I am writing a review for this book and it's not going to be happy.
First, a positive note. The story moves quickly and it is an easy read. There is nonstop action and little useless reflection that is all too common in young adult fiction. The story moves from the first page and doesn't stop until the very end.
The first problem I had with the story is the transitions. Although it moves quickly, I missed the transition from pretty princess to hardened and embittered soldier. Princess Eliza watches the physical landscape change in 17 days, people died and the geography and ecology changed almost immediately. Under armed guard, the enemy enters the royal grounds and hands the queen fruit. Fruit that nobody else can get. Is she wary? No. She eats it and dies. Eliza watches this. The man escapes the armed and guarded grounds and her baby brother is born under duress, with the poison still in his system. And yet, Eliza grows into a young woman who still believes in good and toting her silver spoon in her mouth.
Fast forward a few years. Her very sick brother writes a note. He's six years old and writes a goodbye note. He somehow saddles his horse which, even a healthy six year old boy would probably not be able to do unassisted, and leaves the royal grounds. The armed guards let him through? The stable groom didn't notice him saddling up a horse? He left the castle completely undetected, exited the guarded grounds on a horse he saddled by himself and he has never been outside? No way.
The story continues and becomes more and more unbelievable. The protagonist is unstable. Motivation for all characters was never clear. My best example is when Eliza is to be secreted out of the country to live a safe life in the comfort of somebody else's home. Because of this and an impending death, a resistance army disbands before her very eyes. Really? The future of a country and ideals can be abandoned that easily? They have no Plan B besides surrender?
The story toggled between unbelievability and predictability with corny ironies. Eliza decides to stay and fight with the citizens. She gives a rallying speech and there are cheers as she is filled with appreciation that the people would fight and die for her. Oh. Okay. They will die for HER, their princess, but not for their son or daughter. They will not try to save the remaining royals in the tower without the princess. But then, why should they? When they rally, they rally for Eliza, the person, rather than for the symbolism of her existence; a democracy, certain freedoms, end of fascism. Enter random piece of jewelry that suddenly makes Eliza question if there is a Heaven or Hell because it has made its way back into her hands.
I'm sure there are valid arguments for the timing of the events I've outlined but these are only examples I've chosen in order to not give away the story. To me it lacked logic except if I were watching a 1985 Hallmark Special with the story taking place on Fantasy Island.
Contrary to my criticism and lack of stars, I didn't hate this book. I simply saw far too many holes and lack of character development and logic. I didn't mind that I spent an evening reading it. I don't feel like I wasted my time. It was entertaining albeit brutally violent. The violence ranks up there in Hitler's concentration camp. If you can skim past that part, it's not an unpleasant read. There are positive reviews that contrast with mine.
My final verdict is that I'd recommend another book to spend an evening.
*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.