Monday, February 25, 2019

ARC Review: Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury

Title: Last of Her Name
Author: Jessica Khoury
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 400
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Sixteen years ago, rebellion swept the galaxy known as the Belt of Jewels. Every member of the royal family was murdered--down to their youngest child, Princess Anya--and the Union government rose in its place. But Stacia doesn't think much about politics. She spends her days half-wild, rambling her father's vineyard with her closest friends, Clio and Pol.

That all changes the day a Union ship appears in town, carrying the leader of the Belt himself, the Direktor Eminent. The Direktor claims that Princess Anya is alive, and that Stacia's sleepy village is a den of empire loyalists, intent on hiding her. When Stacia is identified as the lost princess, her provincial home explodes into a nightmare.

Pol smuggles her away to a hidden escape ship in the chaos, leaving Clio in the hands of the Union. With everything she knows threading away into stars, Stacia sets her heart on a single mission. She will find and rescue Clio, even with the whole galaxy on her trail. 

Last of Her Name is a YA science fiction retelling of Anastasia and is so far up my alley that I HAD to get my hands on it! Luckily I did and I dived in as soon as I possibly could. This was my first ever Anastasia retelling, although there do seem to be a lot of them being published lately. I wasn't sure what to expect from this one, but I can definitely say it surprised me.

Stacia has lived in a small town on a small planet for her entire life with her parents and best friends Clio and Pol. Stacia loves spaceships and she's good at fixing them. When she and her friends spot a particularly impressive ship coming toward their town, they run at the chance to see it, but quickly find themselves in a very dangerous situation. This leads to Stacia finding out she's really Anya, the princess, which prompts her and Pol to go on the run. That's when things get really wild.

This book is non-stop action from the first chapter and, for maybe the first time, I don't think that's always a great thing. Last of Her Name is just a lot. There's a lot of world building, a lot of characters, and a lot of information thrown into a relatively short book. I'm not usually one for dragging things out, but I truly believe this could have worked better as a duology. Despite there being SO much going on, there's never much time to process, to get to know new characters or situations. Because of that, I never really felt able to fully connect with much in the story. New characters would be introduced and we're immediately expected to care about what happens to them without knowing them at all.

When it comes to characters, they were fine, for the most part. Stacia was fine. She was a pretty typical YA heroine who learned the truth about her past and was forced to deal with it. I did enjoy her growth as she came to accept her true nature. Pol, the Dimitri character in this retelling, was just... not it. I can't really put into words what I didn't like about him, but the romance didn't work for me. Probably my favorite part of this book was Riyan, a character who's introduced fairly early on and becomes a huge part of the plot. His abilities and the world he's from were so fascinating to me! He reminded me a bit of Spock, who I also love. Honestly, I'd read a book all about him and his sister.

As with Riyan's world, the rest of the world building was really fascinating! There were multiple unique planets and systems, and the prisms that powered the technology were a really interesting concept. That did get a little too weird for me as the book went on, but I can't say much more about it without spoilers. I thought the struggle between the Union and the Resistance was interesting, although the Big Bad was a little too over the top in his motivations.

Overall, this book was just okay. I expected a really fun sci-fi retelling and, while I did get it, it was just too much in too little space. I think I'd have loved this story a lot more if there had been more time to get to know the world and the people in it.