Amy's Reviews > The Last Book in the Universe

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick
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's review
Jan 13, 12

bookshelves: science-fiction
Recommended for: Fans of distopia books.
Read on January 13, 2012, read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** Not many people seem to understand what I mean when I call something a "distopia" (which I'd call this book), so I'll briefly describe my personal definition of the word. For me, a distopia is a place where, theoretically, problems have all been solved, but one thing (or more than one thing) are off, causing everything to go wrong. Oh, and they often have to do with a major catastrophe and mankind's attempts to start over.

I call this book a distopia for a few reasons. First, as I said above, there was "the Great Quake," the event that toppled major cities, destroyed the Grand Canyon, let loose radiation from the Earth's core (I don't know if science supports radiation being in the Earth's core, but that's OK), caused all the plants to die, and made the sky covered with grey clouds. Oh, and I forgot the acid rain (I think it wasn't so caustic that it melted folks, but it apparently tingled when it got you wet).

Second, there was a "cure" for mankind's situation offered: the Proovs. A Proov is a genetically perfect human. Basically, a zygote (or any pre-born baby, I think... they weren't specific) would have its genes altered and then be born a literal perfect human being. Well, minus human nature. That was the same. Interestingly, the Proovs had no "parents." Since the genes of the baby Proovs were altered, what we would call their parents are just called "Contributors," because if the baby has genes other than its parents, it is no longer the product of just its parents. All that mumbling to say that the baby's genes are so changed that you can argue it's not genetically its parents' child.... Ish. It's confusing.

But back to the Proovs and my second reason. They were the solution to the crisis. Since humankind had thought about things like the Great Quake in theory but never planned about them, the Proovs had the opportunity to breed their leaders to think about the future and certain eventualities. As well, they were able to secure their own territory, called Eden, and keep it for themselves. While the rest of the world, called the Urb, was in chaos, basically run by ganglords (and lord-esses?) and thugs, Eden had green grass, trees, running water, and the color blue.

Human nature got in the way, though, and some Proov (not sure who) allowed the normal humans to get their hands on mindprobes, which were needles you insert into your brain that let you pretend to be in another reality. The Proovs were aware of how damaging long-term use of a mindprobe could be, but, in order to let the normals of humanity expire, mindprobes became available for all of the Urb. Who let them do that was never said, but maybe that's because the majority of Proovs wanted to rid the world of normality. It might have been a group decision and not just a radical idea. I'll never know, though, but I like that because I keep guessing.

I found this story very easy to read and very engaging. In fact, I read it in one evening. I got the feeling for most of the book, though, that it was meant to be read by people younger than myself (which it probably is). The abbreviations for everything were very simplistic, and though I know that the use of language in the book was meant to be dumbed-down, I think that a fifteen or sixteen year old guy would talk in a slightly more intelligent manner. Eh. I guess I can't complain if I read the book almost without putting it down... That's what I did, really.

Ryter (I like his name) was interesting. If I didn't like him so much and his strange ways of reacting to being robbed, I would be annoyed and bored by him. He always seemed to know what to do, but he was humble enough about everything that I don't think I minded.

Lanaya ticked me off at first. Later, though, when she matured and realized she wasn't the center of the universe, I started to like her more. She was alright.

The little kid who constantly said "chox" was cute. I wondered if a five year old was really capable of climbing to and from the Pipe like they said, but maybe that's just because I don't know much about how active kids are when they're five.

It took me forever to realize that Spaz, the main character, had epiliepsy. Ryter really had to spell it out before I understood why his name was Spaz. Clever, though. Some of the boss names were a bit cheesy, I found (oh, and "Mongo" is my cat's name, so "Mongo the Magnificent" was funny for me).

I could go into more detail, but I'm tired, so that'll have to do. If there was another book to read in this series, I'd read it, but I don't think there is. Oh well. I had a lot of fun.

Oh, right! There was hope in the end! Always a good thing.

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