Joshua's Reviews > The Last Man

The Last Man by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
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's review
Nov 24, 2010

it was amazing
Read from October 12 to 21, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 1

The reason this book didn't reach my favorite shelf, despite being extremely moving and well written, is two fold. The first is the obvious one. I got bored one too many times. When it was interesting, it was captivating, but in between, my mind wandered too much. I would've had the book done in half the time, I think, if I didn't have to read three or four paragraphs over again every time I sat down to read it. This, in and of itself, was also two fold, but let me stop breaking things down for a moment and explain the second half of my argument first. That second half was that I found her futuristic novel to be lackluster in the futuristic department. This is Mary I-Wrote-Fucking-Frankenstein Shelley. With her cautionary tale of the dangers of science, I expected an interesting portrayal of late 21st century Europe. What I got was a perfect portrayal of early 19th century Europe. One would think that she would've imagined science progressing in nearly three hundred years, but it seems things have stayed the same. Because of this, my mind would often wonder to explanations of how our society regressed to this state. So the twofold reason for my mind wandering was both being bored with the flower prose and self-explanation of why in the 2090's we're using horses, steamboats, and hot air balloons. I actually created this whole back story in my head, about massive war and famine in the mid-21st century based on lack of resources, which caused us to decrease our consumption, eliminating most electrical equipment and nearly all fossil fuel-based transportation.
The best way to explain my feelings about this novel is thus: as an apocalyptic and gothic novel, it is fantastic. As a science fiction novel, it is subpar. I've read that she purposely left out most of the explanations of future technology because that did not serve her purpose, but frankly, I find that to be a cop-out. Forgetting that one flaw, which, admittedly, is more based on my expectations rather than Shelley's artistic abilities, the book is fantastic, and should be ranked with such works as A Canticle for Leibowitz or The Road in the canon of apocalyptic literature.

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10/14/2012 page 108
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