Published: October 1st 2013 by Allen & Unwin
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Genres: Post Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
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The end of the world happens in the blink of an eye.
When The Snap sweeps the globe, everyone can instantly hear everything that everyone else is thinking. As secrets and lies are laid bare, suburbs and cities explode into insanity and violence. What might have been an evolutionary leap instead initiates the apocalypse.
Sixteen-year-old Danby Armstrong's telepathy works very differently. She can tune into other people but they can't tune into her. With only this slender defence, Danby must protect her little brother and reach the safety of her mother's mountain retreat. But it's 100 kilometres away and the highways are blocked by thousands of cars and surrounded by millions of people coming apart at the psychic seams.
Danby's escape is made even more dangerous by another cataclysm that threatens humanity's extinction. And her ability to survive this new world will be tested by a charismatic young man whose power to save lives may be worse than death itself.
Wow. Everyone needs to run out and grab a copy of this epic book as soon as possible! Raid your libraries, your local bookstores, and if need be, online bookstores (Fishpond has international shipping).
The Last Girl is primarily concerned with an apocalyptic event: the Snap, which allows everyone to read each other’s thoughts to a range of about 50 – 100 km. Everyone’s secrets are out in the open – cheating spouses are caught out, adopted children find out the truth the hard way, parents can read the secrets of their children. The innate selfishness of humanity comes into the spotlight, and most of the population can’t take it. Murders and suicides occur at a terrifying rate.
In the middle of it all is Danby, who can hear everyone’s thoughts but miraculously no one can hear hers. It’s a slim defence against all the madness, but it’s all she’s got, so she sets off with her younger brother Evan to the refuge of her mother’s house in the remote mountains.
I love this novel primarily because it’s set in Sydney. I’ve read many books set in places where I’ve never been, or have been as a tourist, but I know Western Sydney like the back of my hand. I grew up in Blacktown, I went to school in Penrith, I lived in Parramatta for a few years. I could imagine every step of Danby’s journey vividly, which is a refreshing change. It totally changed the way I read the story: I’ve read other novels that do a great job of describing the landscape of other countries and cities, but I’d never realised how much it impacts my reading when I can imagine everything because I’ve been there before.
There are very few YA books out there that are told with the sophistication of The Last Girl; it’s richly detailed, emotionally charged, and all the characters are amazing. I like Danby, she’s pragmatic and tough, and doesn’t have delusions of grandeur. She knows it’s a quirk of fate that has spared her the horrors others have experienced, and doesn’t take her survival for granted. I also really like Nathan (a believable person of colour!), his resilience and good sense.
The plot of this novel took me by surprise, because the author completely changes the rules on readers about half way through. It was actually kind of confusing and I kept wanting to go back to the other narrative, but Danby had ended up in a totally different situation to previously and it obvious there was no going back. I hope the sequel, The Last Shot, allows readers to take up with the characters we were forced to leave. The second part of the narrative is interesting, but I felt a bit left out because I didn’t like a lot of the characters. Things did become more entertaining once they were in the Blue Mountains though!
I haven’t enjoyed a book as much as I did The Last Girl for a while. The ending of the book is powerful, and although it’s not a huge cliffhanger and there is a snippet of the next novel included, it’s still left me hanging for The Last Shot. I strongly recommend this book to all fans of YA or apocalyptic literature! Go now, shoo! Grab it as soon as you can 🙂