Nastassja's Reviews > Last of Her Name

Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury
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DNF at about 30%. I am ready for some rant!

“It’s probably just some rich Alexandrian tourist with nothing better to do than slum around the outer systems.”
“Yeah.” Clio gives a wistful sigh. “Maybe a handsome, rich Alexandrian tourist, with a troubled past and a broody air and a heart yearning for love.”

Basically this is what this book turned out to be: a boring cliched retelling for bookish tourists, but in this case, I felt myself a duped with a promise of space Anastacia retelling tourist.

First of all, let me start from the easy stuff like special snowflake syndrome and childhood friend turned lover. Our special Stacia finds out she is the last living child of the deceased Emperor, and rebel forces want her to become their leader. And very predictably our special snowflake underlines her specialness by proclaiming she doesn't want to be special. Gasp! Multiple eyeroll follows her proclamation. Billions of people dream to be special and you say you don't? So young and already so cynical.

Then the romance part is just something. There's this nice guy, who they were friends with from young age. He is almost a brother to her. And her best girlfriend has hots on him. And then our special snowflake starts having hots on him as well. Gasp! Phew, that's distasteful. He turns out so nice and cute and she catches her breath... Major eyeroll.
Something warm and strange spreads through me as I look at Pol, standing there with his hair wild around his horns and his foot still pressing an unconscious knight to the ground. I realize—with a shock—that it’s a feeling of awe.

However, these are not my main issues with this book: the foreshadowing of the real Russian history in the early 20th century is. You know, nobody likes demonization of their country's history. I personally find it offensive, though I don't like to throw the word 'offensive' at anyone, sometimes circumstances force my hand. But I am so tired of cliches and unchecked facts!

Once more with feeling, authors: we don't have female name Ilya in Russia, it's a purely male name! It's the same as if Americans named their girls Stan or Peter or Chuck. Purely male names, that it. Why on earth do we have a girl named Ilya in this book?! *facepalm*

Then, when an author creates their own world and makes an ultimate villain one-dimensional tyrant it's okay because it's a fictional world. But when an author indirectly masks real names and events by the means of putting everything under the same demonic one-dimensional villain cover - excuse me I will fight tooth and nail with them. I do not like unchecked historical facts.
I hated the Union. Under your family’s rule, the aeyla were safe. We were equal. But now, we’re not allowed into universities or to take high-security jobs.

As we have established before we are dealing with foreshadowing of real events, and it's obvious what time period and Union are mentioned in that quote. It's after-Revolutionary Russia in the first half of the 20th century and The Union is the Soviet Union. Now, I know that the Soviet Union is often frowned upon and looked at as something demonic, which is absolute bullshit, but who cares, right? Definitely not Jessica Khoury. The 20th century was messy for Russia: War, Revolution, Civil War - you name it. A lot of terrible things had happened. But let's look at the facts: education. How many erudite people were there in Russia during the Imperial Rule? 27% of working, body-abled people were able to read and write in 1897. It's an extremely low rate. It shows how little really Tsar and the Emperor cared about people. Aristocrats were living separate lives, not caring about the common folk. And do you know how many erudite people there were after the revolution? In 1926 - 56,6 %, and by 1979 - 99,8 %. Illiteracy was completely erased. So who the fuck is not allowed to universities, you are saying?

Next, the mentioning of Red Nights or how the author calls them Vityaze.
I think of all the war films I’ve seen in school, of the revolution when the Red Knights stormed cities and executed everyone who resisted. And the film we’ve all seen but never talk about: the murder of the imperial family—of Emperor Pyotr Leonov, his wife, all their little children—recorded and spread throughout the remains of the Alexandrian Empire, now the Galactic Union.

First of all, vityaze - correctly vityaz in singular form - is a person similar to a Viking, and they existed in ancient Slavic culture, way back in time. They have no relation to Russia in the 20th century. That it. Then we have Red Knights, who are obviously Communists, and the murder of Emperor Nikolai II and his family. Granted, the assassination of the whole Imperial family was terrible, but all terrible things have roots. Common people didn't particularly love the Emperor (see the above reasons), and when the revolution finally struck there were many recruits who wished to kill the Emperor. Actually, it's still debatable who actually pulled the trigger, but nevertheless, this monstrous deed will be forever red stain on Russian history. To call all and everyone monsters for that is not ethical, at least, and, at the most, it's the same as calling all Americans monsters for the genocide of Native Americans.

To make myself loud and clear, I am okay with authors creating new worlds and empires and tyrants (one-dimensional, mind you!), but, please, stop using unchecked facts and cliches to write your stories. People read books and then they see real references and think this is actually how it was. Poor oppressed Russian people, bring monarchy back, so they could live happily ever after! No fucking way!

I can't say how far or how good/bad the story progressed as I dropped it at a pretty early stage, but, honestly, do you want to read another special snowflake book with a nice cardboard boyfriend? If you want space adventures and light funny read, better read Starflight, which also has a mechanic heroine, but a likeable one who doesn't suffer from the specialness mania.

Not recommended!

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Reading Progress

December 1, 2017 – Shelved
March 5, 2019 – Started Reading
March 5, 2019 –
4.0% "Okay, um, I already can see some facts about Russian culture askew. But I am not biased, I just want to see where the story goes."
March 7, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-21 of 21 (21 new)

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message 1: by Mary (new) - added it

Mary H If you're looking for other Anastasia books, check out Ashley Poston's Heart of Iron and Jay Kristoff's LIFEL1K3! They're both sci-fi Anastasia retellings!


Nastassja Mary wrote: "If you're looking for other Anastasia books, check out Ashley Poston's Heart of Iron and Jay Kristoff's LIFEL1K3! They're both sci-fi Anastasia retellings!"

Thanks! Will check them out!


message 3: by Ayla (new) - added it

Ayla Cato All retellings seem like that, tho. Including the above suggestions - in my opinion. I think retellings have become an excuse for writing cliches. :/ If I may ask, what annoyed you the most in this book? I was thinking about picking it for my next read.


Nastassja Ayla wrote: "All retellings seem like that, tho. Including the above suggestions - in my opinion. I think retellings have become an excuse for writing cliches. :/ If I may ask, what annoyed you the most in this..."

Mainly the no factor for me was the incorrect facts about real history. You either create your world and do not touch the real one, or you follow the real facts.

But apart from that i would say this book is just a gathering of cliche: special snowflake who doesn’t want to be one, a hot childhood friend who turns out he had feelings for her, a one dimensional villain and so on.


message 5: by Ayla (new) - added it

Ayla Cato Ah, the standard ones. Thank you! I hope your next read turns out better!


Nastassja Ayla wrote: "Ah, the standard ones. Thank you! I hope your next read turns out better!"

Ahaha, standard indeed. Thank you!


message 7: by Minni Mouse (new) - added it

Minni Mouse Oooh, dear. Thinking of taking this off my TBR now.


message 8: by Wilde (new) - added it

Wilde Ilia? A girl. Really?


Nastassja Minni Mouse wrote: "Oooh, dear. Thinking of taking this off my TBR now."

Wise thinking! I am so angry because I was actually waiting for this book to come out only to be deeply disappointed and offended by it :/


Nastassja Wilde wrote: "Ilia? A girl. Really?"

Mmm, yes, a girl! I think Bardugo had Ilya girl in her Grisha trilogy as well? Maybe other authors pick up on this name from her. If so, it's a catastrophe *facepalm*


message 11: by Ayla (new) - added it

Ayla Cato Great review. I'll pass on this book because I feel you on the history part. I'm so tired of authors abusing foreign history and cultures they know little to nothing about. I mean, settings are okay. It's just a place you can visit. But language, customs, historical events, etc.? Yeah, I'm afraid you'll have to do more research than look into Wikipedia, authors.
Btw, we have the word "vitez" here, and it does mean knight. We associate it only with medieval knights, though. Also, Ilya is definitely a male name. I can't even imagine it sounding feminine.


Nastassja Ayla wrote: "Great review. I'll pass on this book because I feel you on the history part. I'm so tired of authors abusing foreign history and cultures they know little to nothing about. I mean, settings are oka..."

Thank you, Ayla! I am afraid she didn’t even look up in Wikipedia, you’d be surprised how many useful stuff you can find there.

Oh, good to know about vitez, I didn’t know about the similar word in English, though it doesn’t help the overall disastrous situation.

Definitely! Any settings are okay, real historical facts are a different matter.

I don’t know where they find all these names. First Bardugo, then her.. We have so many beautiful female names and they choose this one instead.


message 13: by Wilde (new) - added it

Wilde Like Olga, Svetlana, and so many more. Gorgeous names.


Nastassja Wilde wrote: "Like Olga, Svetlana, and so many more. Gorgeous names."

Exactly)


message 15: by Izzy (new)

Izzy ugh, deleting this from my wishlist asap. i'm always, always wary of american authors writing russian-inspired stories, especially when thy decide to tackle on the revolution - it's 2019 and americans are still parroting the same old anti-communist speech that honestly should've been revised by now lol
anyway! i'm sorry you had to suffer through this, but thanks for stopping me from picking up a horrible book <3


Nastassja Izzy wrote: "ugh, deleting this from my wishlist asap. i'm always, always wary of american authors writing russian-inspired stories, especially when thy decide to tackle on the revolution - it's 2019 and americ..."

Thanks for the support, Izzy <3 It's 2019 indeed but have you seen how Hollywood still shows Russians in their movies? Bad Russian Ivan with non-stop drinking vodka! Especially I am appalled with the recent Red Sparrow starring Jennifer Lawrence. It's such a nest of bullshit, I can't even >.< But I am really tired of American authors' and moviemakers' politicized attempt to bring democracy (their vision) everywhere where people don't want it. Feels like we live in a Imperial world, not a diverse one :/

This book is not the worst, but I am tired and angry, so I wouldn't even make an attempt to recommend it to anyone.


message 17: by Silea (new)

Silea Thank you for saving me some money and time.


Nastassja Silea wrote: "Thank you for saving me some money and time."

You are welcome, Silea :) I am sure there're far better books out there in ya sci-fi genre!


Allison I'm actually sorry you DNF at the spot you did. Because all the things you complained about (except the naming stuff from Russia, if those are pet peeves of yours then they're legitimate gripes) get turned on their heads later in the book. I, too, thought I knew exactly where this book was going after the first few chapters, that it was going to be a line of stupid YA cliches taking advantage of the veneer of a real period in history to write a black and white story about good guys and bad guys and a special girl who doesn't want to be special and a dumb love triangle. But it turns out to be a lot more complicated and nuanced than that, and there were a ton of twists that I did not expect on those tired YA tropes.


message 20: by Nastassja (last edited Apr 10, 2019 11:13AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Nastassja Allison wrote: "I'm actually sorry you DNF at the spot you did. Because all the things you complained about (except the naming stuff from Russia, if those are pet peeves of yours then they're legitimate gripes) ge..."

I am glad you enjoyed the story, Allison. Jessica Khoury is a very talented author so I don't doubt the plotline might get better deeper into the book. My major complaint, though, not in the incorrect use of names or the one-dimensional villain (even if he turns out smarter than expected), but the message, the ideology the author puts behind her story. It's a total cliche and a wrong one in many terms, and I would be okay if it hadn't mirrored the real history but it does and I find the way it's represented in the book unacceptable. But if I were not Russian and didn't know details about the time period described in the book, I would definitely enjoy the story more than I did.


Allison Actually, that's what I was getting at. The more you learn in the book about the Union, the Loyalists, and the overthrown Leonov family, the more you discover they're all wrong, and they all made horrible decisions based on faulty information and prejudice that got a ton of people killed. The book isn't anti-Soviet propaganda with the "Reds" as the ultimate evil, even though at the point of the book at which you stopped it reads that way so I see how you came to that conclusion. The reveals of what was actually going on hadn't happened yet and it ends up departing from real history quite a bit into its own very science fiction territory. I get you being offended that it used the real history of your country as a starting point--I think, for example, a lot of Americans would get miffed if someone did the same thing and did a very obvious take on our Revolutionary War but it looked like they were making George Washington the bad guy. I'm just saying the book eventually veers off in its own direction and the direct parallels to the Red and White Russians and the Romanovs fall apart.


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