November 9, 2017

last kids on earth

The Last Kids on Earth

Max Brallier (author) and Douglas Holgate

Pub. 2015

240 pgs.

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Comic-Novel Hybrid

Summary / Review / TLDR / Recommended For / Issues / Themes / Grade


Summary

Jack Sullivan is used to being on his own. He’s an orphan who’s lived in a different foster home each of his thirteen years. So when the monster apocalypse goes down, he’s more than capable of taking care of himself. It’s what he’s done since he can remember.

But that doesn’t mean he’s not concerned about some of his classmates. He promised his best friend, Quint, that he’d stay in touch and they’d stick together. It’s been forty-two days since the world ended and Jack still hasn’t seen Quint again. On top of that, there’s June Del Toro, the unwitting love of Jack’s life who locked herself in their middle school. Jack doesn’t even know if she’s still alive, but he’s determined to find her.

But with hordes of zombies roaming the streets and beasts literally around every corner, what’s a kid to do? Turn it into a live-action video game, of course! Armed with his trusty Louisville Slicer, a tricked-out treehouse, and determination, Jack is ready to take on whatever the new world throws at him!

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Review

Okay, let me look over my notes here…

  • “42 days” (hmm…sensing something fishy here)
  • The Robinsons have a treehouse (really, Brallier? Really?)
  • The kid’s name is Jack, and he’s fighting a giant (really guys? Really?!)
  • Fallout reference: Nuka Cola (so as an adult I’m enjoying this more than I probably would if I was a kid because I’m getting all of these references that the authors probably put in there for any adult who is reading this)
  • “88 times” (at this point, I’m pretty sure the 88 was intentional)
  • I’m getting massive EarthBound vibes from this–monsters from out of nowhere, main char with a baseball bat, obligatory “female char who needs rescuing” but who can kick butt if she has to, super-nerd fighting with acid and bottle rockets, and strong guy (though he’s not much like Po, so I guess it falls apart there)…maybe this wasn’t intentional, but I can’t shake the feeling, y’know?
  • Yup. There are more Easter eggs and pop culture references in The Last Kids on Earth than I would’ve expected from a silly, post-apocalyptic, Wimpy Kid lookalike. Not quite as many as Ready Player One, mind you, but it definitely has that vibe to it. And y’know what?

    As a child of the ‘90s and a massive geek myself, I’m digging it.

    I love Jack’s voice. The book’s point of view is first person with him as the narrator, and it’s got such a full personality to it. It’s almost like the author dictated the whole thing into his phone (shifty-eyes) and added punctuation and paragraph breaks as necessary. Fourth-wall breaks abound, giving the whole thing a very Deadpool-esque feel. The kid talks like a kid, using words like “ain’t,” and since it’s all first person in his voice, we definitely get those incorrect forms coming through. On the other hand, they’re all written consistently and correctly, so there’s that.

    The other characters are strong in their own rights. I would never mistake Quint or Dirk for Jack or June, for example, even if I didn’t have illustrations on every page or a description of who was talking. I was actually really impressed with Brallier’s skill in this regard; it would’ve been easy to make everyone sound the same, but it seems like he worked really hard to make each character’s personality, voice, and character unique.

    The plot itself is a little thin, unfortunately. Like, cheese-cloth thin in places. Out of nowhere monsters and zombies take over, and Jack roams the city for a few months seeing absolutely no one, then he meets like three actual people in almost no time at all? He survives on Oreos and Cheetos? He drinks hot dog water? Okay, massive “ew” moment on that last one, but how is this kid not actually dead? I know I don’t have the best eating habits, but still. And where did he get donuts? They’d be ridiculously stale. Where is he emptying his bucket toilet thing? My questions of practicality demand answers!

    Okay, I’ll let suspension of disbelief take care of those. It’s a story, and for the sake of sanity, I’ll just assume the answer is “Because book.” But I wish Brallier had given some sort of reason as to why the monsters appeared. Space rock? Science experiment? Cursed Native American burial ground? Whyyyyyyyy?!

    Maybe the sequel will help. To the library!

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    TLDR

    Kids will love this, even if they miss a lot of the references.

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    Recommended for…

    • Kids (like, all of them)
    • SF Geeks
    • Gamers

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    Issues

    • Bullying: one of the characters bullies others
    • Horror Elements: lots of monsters and zombies, including illustrations of such
    • Other Illegal Activity: underage driving
    • Theft: characters loot stores for supplies
    • Violence: lots of characters beat up monsters and zombies and the like
    • Weapon Use: characters use makeshift weapons to defend themselves from monsters

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    Themes

    • Bullying
    • Determination
    • Family
    • Friendship
    • Good vs. Evil
    • Heroism
    • Romantic Love
    • Survival

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    Grade

    Main Character 2
    Subcast 2
    Setting Development 2
    Exploration of Conflict 2
    Satisfying Resolution 1
    Consideration of Themes 2
    Didactic Tone 2
    Suspension of Disbelief 1
    Imagery and Description 2
    Compelling Storytelling 2
    Author’s Style 2
    Rhythm and Pace of Book 1
    Mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation) 1
    Predictability 1
    Reader Enjoyment 2
    Total 25/30
    83%

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