May 01, 12
Read in May, 2012
This book had a lot of potential (post apocalyptic world, kickass princess fighting for the survival of her people, poisoned rivers and evil armies and murder and rebellion and faked deaths) but never really does anything with it. The post-disaster world is strangely unspecific yet simultaneously over-the-top, with mutated animals and rivers running silver with mercury and references to nothing green growing. But if things were even half that messed up, they'd have all starved and/or been killed by mercury poisoning long ago. And the kickass princess doesn't really get to kick a lot of ass. She has an absolutely awesome moment at the Tower of London when facing imminent death at the hands of the Big Bad, but otherwise is mostly noble and detached. She suffers nicely, but avoids having to make any tough decisions and is never forced to make any moral judgments that aren't black and white.
I feel like there was so much potential for Eliza to be more than she was, and for the book to be better than it was. There was some serious moral ambiguity that was completely ignored. Eliza's family was throwing balls while their people starved - but the rebels are EVIL for daring to rise up against them! And the rebels are all unrepentant evil monsters who kill baby animals and torture people. The only rebel with any development at all is the love interest who - of course - doesn't believe in the rebel cause at all and is on Eliza's side from day one.
I wanted Eliza to grow up more in this book, to realize that she's sheltered and that her family hasn't necessarily been in the right all the way. Unfortunately, that's not what happened. I did quite like Mary and Polly, and some of the supporting characters had very nice moments of bravery and devotion.