Title: The Last Book in the Universe
Author: Rodman Philbrick
Publisher: The Blue Sky Press, 2000
Genre: Teen Fiction
This story, I have to admit, was not what I thought it was going to be like. I can’t decide if it was better or worse than my immediate expectations. Either way, it was good, and it was definitely a book that I was excited about finishing. In a creepy, depressing land called the Urb, a teenage kid called Spaz lives with the Bully Bangers, the gang that controls Spaz’s home area of the Urb. The “Spaz” part of his name (we never learn his real name) comes from the fact that he can’t probe. Mind probe, that is. You see, our divulged main character lives during a post-apocalypse time after something called the big shake. It was a terrible earthquake, destroying nearly everything in sight. Fortunately, some humans survived and started a new civilization. Unfortunately, that civilization was terrible, and the land was conquered by anarchy and brute force, instead of strategy and decent government. Gangs rule the land, except for in Eden, an area which is only inhabited by genetically perfected humans called proovs. Mind probes are needles developed by years of introspection and science so harmful to your mind it’s almost like sunbathing in ultraviolet light. They create an experience that’s supposed to make you feel like you’re actually in the movie you’re watching. It’s like a TV you stick in your brain. Spaz, however, cannot use mind probes because he has something backtimers call “epilepsy.” If he uses a mind probe, he has a wicked seizure, and lights out – that’s all folks.
He meets an old dude named Ryter and they soon go on an adventure to rescue Spaz’s adoptive little sister, Bean, who is in another section of the Urb and dying. They meet a proov along the way named Lanaya who unexpectedly helps them in lots of random ways. Although Lanaya at first thinks that Spaz is about as attractive as a gargoyle because she is genetically “improved” (the cat’s pajamas is a metaphor that comes to mind) she soon becomes his friend and helps him rescue Bean. Bean, however, is terribly sick and in danger of dying, so Lanaya agrees to take her to Eden where the rest of the “normals” learn that she’s not just any proov – she’s literally a princess destined to become the heir of a position more luxurious than a deluxe yacht. Although Bean is eventually healed, they soon face the fact that Eden has a boycott on normal residents and have to leave. There is a surprising, yet wholly deserved ending that lets you know, as strange as it sounds, that Spaz is the last book in the universe.
The style of this book, I have to say, was not terribly unique. It was, however, similar to The Hunger Games – creepy, yet inspiring. The name didn’t really seem to fit in the beginning, but in the end it’s completely obvious. This is one of those stories where the main character tells the story. A few other incredibly successful books this are Junie B. Jones (although the genre is not similar) and The Hunger Games. I would recommend this book to kids ages 12 and up.
Posted by: Fred Reads