Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sci-Fi Saturdays: The Last Book in the Universe

The Last Book in the Universe, by Rodman Philbrick

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc
Pages: 223
Reading Level: 12 and up
Enjoyment Level: High

This is one book I picked up for myself a couple years ago. Without any thought of reviewing it until recently! We’re doing Sci-Fi Saturdays now, and as I was perusing my bookshelf, I remembered this one, all ready to go.

No one reads anymore, not even Spaz, who can’t use mindprobes like other people can. The world is a dark place after the Big Shake. “Normals” exist outside of Eden, where the improved population has clean air, water, and growing things. Spaz rarely thinks of his troubles until he gets word that his foster sister is dying. Then he crosses dangerous territories, feral people, and a mindfield to help her live.

As “end-of-the-world” books go, this one’s good. Even though it’s an Armageddon sort, it feels much more like an adventure than a post-apocalyptic tale. The characters have run-ins with dangerous people often enough, and there’s a race against time.
The characters feel fleshed out and the author shows the good and bad of both "normal" and "improved" people. Fear is handled in a non-threatening way, though there are plenty of darker characters. They all work together to support the plot and the adventure.

I can’t even really think of any real criticisms, other than I wish there could be a sequel. There were elements left hanging. Those didn’t ruin the story at all, but I’m curious enough to want the tale to continue.

Teachers, this is a great one for class discussion and activities. The characters and plot are full of interesting details and the ending is left for children to imagine (or hope) what might happen to everyone. Of course, it gets high recommendations from me for anyone, whether they be teachers, students, or just interested readers.

So, until next time, go read something good!

~ Vilate

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