Wow! We are finished reading Narnia! It's bittersweet, because we absolutely loved reading the books, but it's going to be fun to move on to something else. We sped through The Last Battle, and finished it in a week!
The Story: It's the end of Narnia. A devious Ape convinces a poor Donkey to dress in a lion's skin and then passes him off as Aslan, convincing people and creatures of Narnia to do terrible things, saying that they are Aslan's will. The current (and final) King of Narnia, Tirian, calls for help from the Real Aslan, because he sees through the ruse, and who should be sent to help but Jill and Eustace? They fight together to try to save Narnia and the Narnian's from the horrible Ape, and in the end, find that their adventure is going to bring them to a much different end than they would ever have thought.
The Good: It's exciting, that's for sure. There are lots of lessons to be learned in this book, and all of the favorite characters from the previous books are revisited. The imagery is fantastic, and the characters are just wonderful. The end was lovely, and I wasn't sure it was going to be.
The Bad: There are some very strong religious references in this one, with Aslan the Jesus Lion, as one of my friends calls him, and the Evil God Tash, the parallel to the Devil. I am not a religious person, so some of it was a bit much for me, but I guess it all boils down to the core morals, and that I don't have a problem with. Good prevails (sorry if I give anything away!) and Evil is quenched. Some of the things in the book are really dark, though. There were cliffhangers at the end of nearly every chapter, and so we ended up reading 2 chapters most nights, so that I wouldn't leave Evalina with anything that would leave her with bad dreams. The evil was SO evil that it was scary even for me. Evalina didn't seem that shaken. And what happened to Susan? Her absence was just kind of weird, and not fully explained.
The Verdict: What a way to end the series! We had a hard time putting it down. Some of the references went over Evalina's head, I'm sure, but I bet that she got more than I thought she did. She really loved the references back to the earlier books, and actually has decided to go back and read the first book by herself. I don't know if she is actually "reading" it, or "skimming" it, but it is wonderful either way. She loved in this book when her favorite characters from the other books showed up, especially Reepicheep. I do think that she ended up being a bit too young to fully appreciate this book, but she still loved it, even if she probably missed a lot of the nuances. It was a great conclusion to our Narnian adventures.