Jean-Pierre Vidrine's Reviews > The Last Man

The Last Man by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
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really liked it

The bulk of this book consists of human drama, drama that is far more compelling and entertaining than the words "human drama" usually sound capable of being. Aside from fascinating characters and their interactions, Shelley grips the imagination (and forces the reader to use it) with her speculations on the future. I really hate spoilers, so I won't give out too many details; but it is apparent that Shelley never foresaw the industrial revolution as her late 21st century is not so different from the mid-19th century she lived in. People are still riding horses and sending messages the long way as they did in her time. If fact, the sole technological advancement she invents for this novel is . . . oh, I'll just let you find out for yourself.
It is not a spoiler however to say that the narrator and lead character, Lionel Verney, through the terrible events of the novel, becomes the sole survivor of the human race (it says so in the title after all). How this happens and how he reacts to his state do make the reader wonder.
If you have the same edition that I have with the introduction by Marge Piercy, a word of warning: skip over her introduction, read the novel, then read what Piercy wrote. Piercy's words on the novel are very insightful, but they would have been better suited to and afterword. Fortunately, after being burned by introductions in other novels, I've learned not to trust these scholarly types not to ruin key moments of a great story.
For any fans of the novel Frankenstein, The Last Man is also a great book for seeing how the young writer of that masterpiece and her writing style grew and matured.

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Reading Progress

September 21, 2011 – Shelved
September 24, 2011 – Started Reading
Finished Reading

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