Really, as a reviewer type person I should have reviewed all the Last Order books, not just 2 and 7. Be that as it may, I can now write a comprehensive review of the series till this point and its "major" plot thrusts.
The Last Order books have been filling in for the some-what rushed ending of Battle Angel book 9, a treasure though it was. Readers had yet to learn who Yoko really was, about her life on Mars, and the events of the past that led her to being dumped in the scrap pile. The short vision we did see had us believe Yoko was an a-moral terrorist type who fought for the wrong side in a war and was brought low by a totally unexplained ethereal enemy.
Now Yoko, aka Alita, is a fully formed character who lives, has emotions, as well as regrets and such. Although to this point Alita only see's Yoko in flashback, she now comes face to face with her past self as a actual personality. And she, in the seventh book, finally becomes one with her past. After 15 books(right? or is it 16?) that is a awesome plot evolution for long time readers.
This growth of Alita takes up the first section on the book and is well enlivened by a classic fight, the first between Alita and another Panzer Kunster. The rest of the book is taken up by the ZOT battles which, I found, to be equally well written and story progressive, even if not in the main plot. An underlying story of how even the best intentions lead to unintended results* is one which has present day resonance. In its second social attack, book seven not only illuminates the deadlieness of an innocent mind given too much power, it also highlights that creating something dark to defeat something dark still leaves you with something dark, whichever wins. All this boils down to a slow fight but a pleasant, if bloody, introspection. Well worth hitting the second half of the book for, critics aside.
As a personal note, I notice that many reviewers, whom I respect seeing as they obviously love these books enough to write about them, are dismissive of the sub plots in the Last Order books. That's fair, given these subplots have little to do with the original books and they keep these books from moving towards conclusion. However, I think Kishiro is smarter than he is being labled. The ZOT is laden with symbolizm and hidden meaning which seems lost on many. So while the main story only gets half the play, Kishiro's wonderfully cynical mind gets to speak out about what he really wants to say. And since these books are art, it seems only fair to cock our heads, look at it ascance, then make opinions based on the subject matter rather than the medium.
* By this I mean the squeaky clean image of the Stellar Nursery Society gets a shot in the kidney. All too often people stand for an ideal without truly weighing what their position leads to.