Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Status: First in the Last Princess series. (Heh.)
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for review.
Genre: Teen Post-Apocalyptic
Other Info: Craze is also the author of By the Shore and Tiger, Tiger.
Description and link from Goodreads):
I don’t know about you, but I’m a total Anglophile. I mean, I’m not ready to start drinking my beer at room-temperature or anything, but a reference to Mother England on a dust-jacket always earns a second look from me. You could write a book about fluffy bunny zombies–which, let’s face it, is no one’s favorite genre–but if the backcover blurb mentions how the Fluffy Bunny Zombies invade the Houses of Parliament, I won’t immediately reject it. Shallow? Perhaps, but be honest–who here doesn’t have a back cover blurb weakness? Didn’t think so.
Almost everything about this book–from the moody cover to the blurb with the right keywords–made it seem that it would be a hit with me. (The author’s name being the exception.) Too bad I was entirely mistaken. The Last Princess is one of those books that you have to read alone so others won’t see the faces you make. Or maybe my WTF? face is particularly ugly. Either way, I can’t recommend this one, and here’s why.
The Last Princess hops from one horrible event to the next. I don’t mean that it has nonstop action–I mean, literally, no one has worse luck than Princess Eliza. She just goes from one bad situation to another. The result is eye-rolling. It makes sense that, as a princess, Eliza would have little real-world experience, but it doesn’t mean that she needs to lack intelligence as well. Also, the constant stream of life-threatening events did nothing to heighten the tension of the novel. It lessened it. Despite the fact that Eliza is placed in numerous life-threatening situations, I never once feared for her life. I don’t think my blood pressure spiked at all.
There’s also the pace of the novel. The Last Princess clocks in at 295 pages–but those are large-print, widely-spaced pages. A lot happens…but a lot also doesn’t. Namely, characterization, setting, emotional resonance and world-building. Because of this book, I’ve decided that England would be an awesome setting for a post-apocalyptic novel. I mean–think about it! It’s an island! Think of the complete isolation, the hardship that would result if it was disconnected from the rest of the world! INSTANT CONFLICT. It’s just that The Last Princess didn’t have the juice to pull it off. Thus–interesting concept, poor execution.
Pacing aside, the thing that killed this novel for me was the one-dimensional characters. They were wooden. Again, full of potential, but poorly realized. Part of the problem is the length. I don’t know if I’ve actually said this before, but The Last Princess should have been longer. It needed more substance. I don’t know if more words would’ve have entirely fixed the problem, but I don’t think it would have hurt, either.
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