27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2002
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.
Far away from the Urbs (which are connected by pipelines) is Eden, home of the "proovs" who are genetically improved humans, thought to be superior to the 'normals.' "Normals" aren't allowed in Eden, where they could actually see a blue sky and green grass, things they 'd heard about from old timers, but which they believe can only be fairy tales.
Spaz's foster sister Bean - the only human who means anything to him - is dying in another Urb, and this emotionally numbed boy decides to risk leaving his Urb and travel through the pipelines to visit her one last time.
He is unhappy to end up journeying with his outcast acquaintances Ryter and Chox), aided by Lanaya (a perfect girl from Eden) on a journey to save Bean -- and while they're at it, to change the world. Likeable characters plus some who aren't so nice. A touch of violence and scary confrontations. A good book for encouraging discussions of prejudices, environmental issues, reading, writing and alternative communications.
We liked it!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2007
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
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2000
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2006
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2002
This book is about an epileptic boy named Spaz who goes on a quest to save his little sister, Bean, from dying of leukemia. The main characters of this book are Spaz, Bean, Billy Bizmo, who is boss of the latch, one of the sections of the Urb in which Spaz lives; Ryter the old "gummy"; Lanaya, the "proov" girl; and her contributors or parents who are named Jinn and Bree. What I like about this book is that Rodman Philbrick really used his imagination when making this book. He made a prediction of what the future might be like. The future in this story is part paradise and part "I don't want to go there". The future is a place where the people don't have a past or future because they use mind probes. Mind probes are needles tat are injected into your brain to make you see virtual reality. It is also a place that is so polluted that you would not even want to look at it. Another thing that I admire about this book is that the author made the language easy to read and understand. This book is full of action and suspense which I relish. In my opinion, this book is among the better books that I have read in my life. Harry Potter has the suspense but does not have the creativity that this book has. In Harry Potter there are wizards that have already been thought of before, but in this story, there are the Urb, Eden, and the Big Shake!!! I give this book a rating of four stars ****. I left the fifth one out because the end was depressing and could have been better. The last part of the book left me hanging. Other than that, the book was spectacular!!!!!!!!!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2002
This book is amazingly realistic. The author tells of our world after a 'big shake' destroyed everything. After the shake most 'normals', like us, live in the Urbs,that is a place like our modern cities except instead of houses they live in small cubicals. The other part of the population is made up of Proovs, genetically improved people, in other words they're perfect in every way. They get to live in a place called Eden, and to us, Eden is paradise. No one is allowed into Eden unless you are a Proov. So when you get sick in the Urbs you die, because, like I said before, you live in horrible little shacks with only acid rain to drink. Hopefully, we ourselves won't end up like this, otherwise Eden is our only hope for survival, and to get there is almost impossible. Because along the way you'd run into many gangs, who'd want to cut your red. You see, many normals grow up without parents to protect them, so they learn early on how to live on there own. After a while they behave not as humans, but as animals, and they hunt in packs for human flesh. But you'll have to read the story to find out more because the ending will shock you.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2007
This book is about a kid named Spaz that lives in the future! He is one of the people that they call The Bangers and the Bangers go out and take other people's things. He doesn't have a family because he was raised by foster parents. They sent him away because his foster father thought that he was doing things to his little sister Bean. Bean gets sick and he goes to her because she wants to see him. Will people still be reading books anymore in the future? I like this book because it had bizarre and cool events that happened! I recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure and action! This book is like nothing that I've ever read before!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2011
I am a middle school teacher and assigned this book as group reading with some trepidation. I wasn't sure how the book would be received. It has been overwhelming voted the "Best Middle School Reading Assignment" by my group of 7th and 8th graders. We usually take 2 weeks to finish a book of this length. Everyone had finished the book within the first week. The "new" language appealed to my students as did the twist on"Ryder." This is a terrific book for the age level.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2001
Rodman Philbrook has written an engaging, thought-provoking, disturbing yet hopeful, easy-to-read children's book about a possible future time that will stay with you long after you finish it, and will make you want to read it over and over again.
I don't know if he is familiar or not with one of my favorite Bob Dylan tunes, Gates of Eden, but the book and song have a great deal in common, including the way they both send shivers down your spine, and weave an intricate, beautiful, scary web that holds onto you and makes you think long and hard about life and the future of man on Earth.
My 6 and 11 year old boys both loved reading this book and ask for it again frequently. The audiotape is an excellent reading of it as well. Read it, listen to it on tape, but get it. You won't regret it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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.)