It’s been a while since my last post! I’ve been really busy with life, but now I’m back. And speaking of life, if you know me at all, you’d know that I’m completely obsessed with Anastasia! The animated movie was—and still is—my favorite animated movie of all time (Tangled is right next to it!), the musical is the closest one to my heart. I’ve gone above and beyond for that production, and I was heartbroken to see it leave Broadway. I went to see it more than five times and met Christy Altomare (the Anya) and the rest of the cast every single time at the stage door. Last Thursday, I also saw Derek Klena (Dmitri in the production) at his show at 54 Below (That was life-changing I have a whole thread of the videos I took on my Twitter) and met Christy again. TLDR: I love Anastasia with my whole heart.
SO when I heard there was an Anastasia retelling set in space, I was nothing else but excited. I dropped the book I was reading and went to get Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury. I loved her previous work with The Forbidden Wish (though looking back now, I’m a little iffy since it’s a novel about Arabian culture that’s written by someone who’s white). Nevertheless, I gave Last of Her Name a shot and found myself disappointed.
Last of Her Name follows a young girl named Stacia who is accused of being the presumed-dead Princess Anya Leonova. She’s lived a rather normal and peaceful life on a minor planet with her best friends Pol and Clio, but that all changes when the Direktor of the Union—the government that killed the imperial family—announces that he’s looking for none other than Stacia herself. She finds herself fleeing her home with Pol until it’s revealed that Clio has been taken hostage.
Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve really been looking forward to reading this and devouring it in all its glory. I love the idea of Anastasia as a space opera, but I felt duped with this book. Not only is the character the most Mary Sue to ever Mary Sue, but she’s also whiny, entitled and has zero personality and zero flaws. Her romance—DON’T GET ME WRONG I LOVE ME SOME CHILDHOOD LOVERS TO LOVERS—had the blandest build-up ever and really served no purpose. It’s like Khoury forgot to write all the build-up and instead added a “childhood friend” bit to seem like they are soooo good together.
There’s also the issue wherein almost all Russians have given this a low rating. There’s a stereotypical depiction of the villains as no more than bloodthirsty and brainless characters with no complexity or interesting characteristics. The names of the characters in this novel have also been heavily rooted in stereotypes, even as so far as to name a female character Ilya when that’s supposedly a purely male name. A Russian reviewer on Goodreads pointed out that it’s the equivalent of naming a girl Peter.
To add to all this, the climax/plot twist was the dumbest thing I’ve ever come across. I really don’t want to add spoilers to this review since I have successfully avoided doing that in all of the ones I’ve posted so far….but I can’t help myself. Stacia literally only gives herself up to save Clio (her other best friend)……ONLY TO FIND OUT SHE ISN’T EVEN REAL. SHE’S JUST A FIGMENT OF HER IMAGINATION. AND NO ONE TOLD HER THAT BECAUSE THEY FEARED SHE WOULD TURN MAD?!
I’m genuinely surprised that I made it through the book though. When I hit the 20% mark, I was so sure I was going to end up dropping it, but to my surprise, I made it! I feel like I just ran a marathon, but now it’s time to pick up one of my most anticipated releases this year….The Bride Test by Helen Hoang! 😉
As an endnote, I really just want to say: if you’re looking for a decent Anastasia retelling, you can pre-order Romanov by Nadine Brandes, which comes out this May. It has slow pacing and some muddled prose, but it’s overall a good book!
Are you a big fan of Anastasia like me? Know of any other retellings that met your expectations? Let me know in the comments below!
Title: Last of Her Name
Author: Jessica Khoury
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Source: Free Copy via Edelweiss
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
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