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The Last Book In The Universe Paperback – March 1, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 185 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Philbrick's latest misfit protagonist embarks on an adventure in a fantastic and often frightening alternative world," said PW. "The creation of a futuristic dialect, combined with striking descriptions of a postmodern civilization, will convincingly transport readers." Ages 10-14.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9-Following the Big Shake, which destroyed most of civilization, a small group of individuals (the "proovs") retreated to Eden, learned how to improve themselves genetically, and sealed their environment off from the sprawling ruins inhabited by the remaining normals. Plagued by genetic defects, a toxic environment, and illnesses, normals like Spaz live in the Urb at the mercy of latch-bosses and their gangs. Spaz knows that his survival depends on Billy Bizmo and the Bully Bangers, so when they send him to rob an old man, he obeys. Ryter willingly surrenders his few possessions except for the pages of the book he is writing-the first time Spaz has seen anything like this. And when the boy sets out to find Bean, his dying foster sister, Ryter insists on accompanying him. Along the way, they are joined by Lanaya, a proov, and Little Face, an orphan. Finding Bean is hard enough; helping her appears to be impossible, until Lanaya takes the motley group back to Eden and confronts the rulers with the truth about the outside world. This is science fiction, not a fairy tale, and everyone does not live happily ever after... Also, the science part of this sci-fi is vague. However, readers who don't examine it too closely will be caught up in the novel. There is definitely room for a sequel...
Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 740 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Sky Press (March 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439087597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439087599
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (185 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
My youngest child (almost 11 as of this writing) often enjoys having books read aloud, in the evening or while we're on vacation far from the television. It can be a challenge to find something we'll both enjoy. My only stipulation is that I get to pick the book (and that they won't come from his favorite horror series books) His stipulation is that we'll stop reading if the first chapter is boring.
This book was one we both enjoyed. We read a chapter or two a night, sometimes more when it was really exciting. We always looked forward to reading some more.

The main character is an outcast within an outcast society, Spaz (an epileptic loner.) He meets some other misfits -- an elderly writer in a world without books, a homeless five year old who can only say one word and an advanced (improved) human who goes against the rules of her own perfect Eden.
The story, told in first person from the view of Spaz, was engrossing, filling our minds with sometimes horrifying visions of a new futuristic world, where a huge earthquake years ago upset civilization as we now know it. The gray skied, cement grounded cities (Urbs) are run by latchlords, gang lords who make and enforce their own ever changing rules. They can and do eliminate anyone for any reason - or no reason at all. Escape from reality is sought by nearly everyone, including the latchlords. Most people have become addicts to needles inserted into the brain, giving the viewer a realistic mind show with images of a perfect world. Mindprobes have replaced drugs, TV and video games, but they are beginning to disrupt the 'leadership' of the latchlords, bringing anarchy and total destruction to the Urbs.
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A Kid's Review on January 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is very interesting, because it is using many similarities between their world and ours. It also has a lot of symbolism with the mind probes representing drugs,and anything you can get addicted to in our world today.

It starts out slow, but as you read on, it developes a plot sequence, that is interesting. Many characters, like Spaz, Lanayy, and Ryter, are easy to relate to.

In this story, Eden is representing heaven. Many people strive to be in its presense.

Rodman Philbrick has implied many different morals in this book. The main moral is to not judge people by their appearances. This means that if someone looks perfect, that doesen't mean they are perfect. This also means that someone who is not coordinated or polished could still be a good friend.

Another moral of this book is to keep reading. Without reading, we would loose all of our current knowledge, and future research would not be possible.

Over all, it is a good read, for children and young adults. As the plot develops, you understand the true purpose of each of these relatable characters. I would highly recomend this book!!

Mitchell, Nathan, & Cory
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A Kid's Review on November 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a very odd, but interesting book. It is definitely a science fiction book. The setting takes place sometime in the future in a place called Urb. Spaz finds out that his sister is sick in another latch. He goes through extreme adventures with an old man and a little boy. He goes through alot and rescues a proov girl, Lanaya. In reward Lanaya escorts him to his sick sister. They find out about Eden. This book is a combination of the book, The Giver and the movie Matrix. There were alot of messages and references to other authors and how important it is to read. We should not take advantage of having books.
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A Kid's Review on January 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic book. Though it struck me to be much like Fahrenheit 451 and The Giver, it provided yet another view on what our society could degrade to. This is a dystopia book, not a utopia book. It had an engaging storyline, showing us this sucky new world through the eyes of a "Spaz Boy", who is charmed and cursed with a physical rejection to a form of entertainment. He meets some old gummy who seems stupid and redundant, but as time passes, more and more of his wisdom is revealed, eventually culminating to the point where he shares many of the same values and mental principles of people today. One of the "morals" of this book is to never stop reading books, and Rodman Philbrick links books strongly with knowledge, understanding, and overall wellbeing. This means that without books, society as we know it could degrade as drastically as to the point where Spaz Boy's world has. Overall, the Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick is a seemingly basic story with many extra lead-offs to moral issues addressed in more important books. This book is therefore comparable to sci-fi classics and childrens books at the same time.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most of the popular dystopian novels for younger readers that I have read recently rely most heavily on adventure/action. Think Hunger Games or Maze Runner and the like. And, they are fine books.

This one is different. It is much more like a quest novel, with a thoughtful calm overriding everything else. Sure, there are dangers, and escapes, and close calls, and villainous enemies, but no attempt is made to make any of that feel truly threatening. And there is no heroic derring-do; not a single hero ever lays a hand on a single bad guy. The good guys talk, they reason, they argue, they convince, they show the other guys a "better way", and so they win out.

This is a slim book. The alt-world is just sketched in. The plot is sort of obvious. The characters don't exactly break new ground. But, you know, you could almost say the same thing about "1984" or "Brave New World".

So, a young reader's book of ideas, (equality, planning for the future, caring for others, individuality, sacrifice, nobility, loyalty, respect, dignity), wrapped up as an adventure story. Not bad. (By the way, if you sample the first chapter, bear in mind that this book takes a little time to get going, so the sample will give you a good idea of the writing style and the vocabulary, but not so much the eventual story.)
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