Release Date: May 1, 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Buy: Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound
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.
The tale of struggle and survival for a princess of the House of Windsor in a post-apocalyptic Great Britain should be exciting, thrilling, a pulse-pounding story of epic proportions. Unfortunately, The Last Princess did not strike me as any of those things. For the majority of the story, I was bored, reading it with an odd feeling of disconnect. I wanted to like it more than I actually did.
The plot sounds great on paper. In the year 2090, after The Seventeen Days where a series of natural disasters destroyed the ecosystem, England struggles to feed its people. Eliza Windsor, her older sister Mary, and her younger sickly brother James exist in a royal bubble where they know things aren’t right, but they aren’t as affected as others. The night of the Roses Ball, Buckingham Palace is stormed and overtaken by Cornelius Holister, who murdered Eliza’s parents and believes he should be King instead. When Mary and Jamie are captured, Eliza manages to escape and vows to rescue her siblings and bring England back to its former glory.
Sounds exciting, right? That’s what I thought too. Regretfully, this didn’t work for me for a number of reasons.
For starters, I never really connected with Eliza. The reason behind her mission is clear- to save her brother and sister- but her struggle has very little urgency to it. Everything just sort of happens, and there’s no suspense, no increasing conflict to urge her along. Whenever Eliza is stuck in an uncomfortable or life-threatening situation, there is always a way out or a rescuer or the thing she needs to be saved, and it rarely comes from her own mind. It is all a bit too easy for me. She joins the Tudor army to find her siblings, and no one recognizes her for reasons that aren’t fully explained even though she’s a princess and her face is literally on billboards. She is mistreated on her first day of training; she immediately makes friends with a hot soldier boy named Wesley who shows up in the nick of time with the deus ex machina of the moment. I wanted to believe that Eliza could inspire her countrymen and women to stand up against the terrorists and form a resistance, but honestly, I couldn’t. Not on her own.
The writing, while enjoyable, is also very direct, describing the action in a perfunctory manner without many details. This style of writing works in certain instances, like during the battle sequences or when the Palace is invaded, but other times, I would have liked to have more of Eliza’s thoughts on her crumbling nation. She notices how things have changed, but not how it’s affected her or how she hopes her sister Mary will correct the injustices when she is Queen. In my opinion, there were many missed opportunities for social commentary that would have improved the story and possibly solved the problems I had with Eliza as well.
Contrary to how this review sounds, I didn’t hate The Last Princess. I simply thought it could have been better. According to the About The Author, there will be a sequel in 2013, so I hope that some of these issues will be addressed. I am curious as to where a sequel would take this story.