Actual Rating: 2.5
This is a very strange book for me. I can realize, logically, it's not a good book for the genre it's set in and what it tries to do, and yet...
Well, it's like one of those cheesy bad 80s/90s action movies. You realize they're not good, but if some cable channel is playing it, you bet I'm gonna be sitting there watching it, no matter how many times I've seen it. There's just something enjoyable about it that makes me turn off my brain, go "what the hell" and enjoy the ride.
Now, that's not to say that The Last Princess doesn't get stuff right. It does! There are some legitimately good pieces here and some really dark scenes (do not read this book if animals being killed/harmed easily upsets you.) But on the whole, it felt like I was reading the first rough draft of someone's novel, where they put down all the important scenes and bits and haven't yet gone back to fill everything in.
The beginning was pretty rocky with some huge missteps in logic--why would a Queen eat fruit given to her by someone she A) doesn't recognize and B) doesn't know who it came from? I'm pretty sure the royalty are smarter than that. How exactly do pieces of sun fall away from the sun and land on Earth? What caused the calamities of the Seventeen Days, where tornadoes and earthquakes and hurricanes ravaged the Earth? What caused it all to happen at once?
This is about when I decided to just go with it and see what the book had to offer. It's an extremely quick read at a slim 290 pages, and the pacing is incredibly fast.
There were some real good points: Eliza's brother Jamie, who I hope lives throughout the entire series. Her relationship with her siblings and how that's the main motivator in her journey is another good point. The romance was laughably underdeveloped and unbelievable, but thankfully it doesn't take up a large part of the book at all. The secondary characters were all pretty flimsy, especially Portia and her band of stereotypical and badly written bullies, and Cornelius was a pretty sad excuse for a villain (and I maintain Eliza's decision on what to do with him in the end was a bad one and it will come back to bite her in the butt, hard.)
I think The Last Princess could have benefited from being thought on a bit longer, been a longer book with the plot of this one stretched over two books, and given a bit more weight to both sides of the politics in this book. The New Guard has some legitimate points, like how the royalty/rich get to live in relative comfort while the rest of England starves to death, but it gets washed away with showing the people who support those ideas as just completely evil, who kill people after forcing them to dig their own graves.
Overall, despite the fact that it's not a good book, I still enjoyed The Last Princess and there's enough good stuff about it that I'll be checking out the sequel in 2013.