Updated: Apr 5, 2019
Thanks to Scholastic Trade Publishing for Providing a Review Copy.
“Worlds may burn and stars may fall, but I will never give up on he. No matter how far away she is, or how impossible to reach, as long as she is waiting at the end of it, my path is clear.”
- Jessica Khoury, Last of Her Name
As a refreshing, unique novel based off the tragic tale of the fall of the Russian Empire and the Romanovs, Last of Her Name is a beautifully-written Anastasia retelling which explores a story outside historical Europe and into a more complex galaxy. Told through the eyes of Stacia, readers get to truly feel all the emotions and feelings that allow this novel to captivate and create the sense of urgency that keeps readers wanting more. Although further character development of protagonists Stacia and Pol as well as more tension and buildup to the climax could have improved the plot, it is without a doubt an enjoyable read for lovers of space and fantasy. Delivering a fairly well-paced plot, Last of Her Name goes beyond the Anastasia legend and illustrates the power of friendship and loyalty, especially in a dark time of a violent revolution.
Working with her family in a vineyard on Amethyne, Stacia lives a comfortable life with her best friends, Pol and Clio. But everything changes when the leader of the Union, Alexei Volkov, comes to Afka and claims that one of Leonovas, the last line of monarchs killed by the Union, is alive, specifically Princess Anya Petrovna Leonova; and Stacia is Princess Anya. To save the alleged princess, Pol immediately takes Stacia away from their now destroyed home and flees from the Union while trying to find allies in a vast galaxy where no one can truly be trusted, but that’s not the only problem: Clio was left behind. Clio, Stacia’s closest friend and unrelated sister. Clio, who is in love with Pol and is Stacia’s better half, left on a destroyed planet with the Union. Even with everything around her falling apart: her family, her past, and even her trust, Stacia’s only and only goal is to get Clio back from the Union, no matter what.
The message surrounding friendship and loyalty in this novel really is something that I would like to see in other YA fiction of the time. While on her mission to find Clio, Stacia never backs down and remains faithful to her closest friend. Even when Pol confesses his feelings for Stacia, she rejects him repeatedly in acknowledgement to Clio’s crush on him. This is something that I feel should be emphasized in other novels; even with a potential romance waiting to bloom, Stacia kills the possibility of a relationship for her friend, even if it hurts her. This loyalty to a friend is a message that drives the plot of this novel and makes such an impact on readers. Khoury delivers this beautifully, truly making this reading experience one of a kind and unforgettable. However, there are certainly aspects that could be considered disappointing.
Overall, there is not much character development in the protagonist of Stacia as well as Pol; I felt as though they were portrayed in a certain light from the beginning and just kind of stayed that way till the end of the plot. Nevertheless, the development of their relationship as well their relationships with others balanced out this lacking element. Furthermore, the tension and action leading to the ending seemed underdeveloped. Many secrets and plot twists were being incorporated which could have ended the story with an impact but only seemed to lead to nowhere and a confusing ending. Regardless, it is clear the Khoury did her research on the history of Anastasia as well as well-developed the relationships throughout the plot.
Without a doubt, Last of Her Name is an enjoyable, fresh novel that explores the power of trust and loyalty during a time where both are scarce. While there are aspects of development that could be improved, the overall emotions driving the story give the novel life and will reveal how friendship and a sense of identity are things to be appreciated. Through Stacia’s struggles with herself and everything around her, Last of Her Name is a stand-alone story that will leave readers with a sweet message and a feeling of content.
From Jessica Khoury, author of the Corpus Trilogy, comes a gripping story of royalty and rebellion, coursing across a far-away star system like a trail of jewels.
Sixteen years ago, rebellion swept the galaxy known as the Belt of Jewels. Every member of the Leonov royal family was murdered--down to their youngest child, Princess Anya--making way for the Union government to seize power. But Stacia doesn't think much about politics. She spends her days half-wild, rambling her father's vineyard with her friends, Clio and Pol. That all changes when a Union ship appears burning through the sky, bearing the leader of the Union, the Direktor Eminent himself, who declares that Stacia's sleepy village is a den of empire loyalists. Even more shocking, the Direktor claims that Princess Anya Leonova is alive--and Stacia is the lost princess.
As their home explodes into chaos, Pol smuggles Stacia to a hidden escape ship, leaving Clio in the hands of the Union. With everything she knows threading away into the stars, Stacia sets her heart on a single mission: She will find and rescue Clio, even with the whole galaxy on her trail.
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