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The Last Universe Hardcover – April 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 690L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; English Language edition (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810958589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810958586
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #952,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-10 -Teenagers Susan and Gary live in the house that has belonged to the family for generations. Now Gary has contracted a disease that has him confined to a wheelchair and traveling to the hospital regularly for transfusions. Susan is unwillingly spending her summer vacation pushing her brother through the garden and woods of their peculiar estate. Gary has been reading about quantum physics, a subject in which Great-Uncle Arthur won an international prize many years earlier. He is also the one largely responsible for the creation of the garden and just possibly the maze that no one has ever seen except from one window in the house. Gary is convinced that his illness has somehow triggered a quantum event that is responsible for the bizarre changes he and his sister are finding each day. He also seems to be getting better after each visit to the garden and so Susan finds herself torn between her fear of it and her fear for her brother's life. Sleator is a master of suspenseful science fiction and that mastery is evident here. The action is slow at first, but as the garden begins to change, the pace picks up correspondingly. Ultimately Susan must brave the maze on her own when Gary is rushed to the hospital. The twist at the end is entirely logical (if anything about quantum can be) and entirely shocking. Well-drawn characters and a believable story will catch and hold Sleator's fans and make new ones. Another solid entry from a deservedly popular author.-Elaine Fort Weischedel, Milton Public Library, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 6-9. After a brief introduction to the uncertainty of quantum mechanics, the paradox of Schrodinger's cat, and the possibility of infinite universes, Sleator launches into a story inspired by these ideas. Fourteen-year-old Susan feels burdened by her parents' expectation that she will provide help and companionship for her older brother, Gary, an invalid who is wheelchair-bound and becoming progressively weaker. Exploring their large garden, they discover that entering the often-invisible maze at its center will enable them to travel to other times and even different versions of the present reality. When Gary insists that they search for a place where he is cured, Susan acquiesces, despite the warnings of her parents, the enigmatic gardener, and her own good sense. The three elderly relatives introduced later in the book seem sketchy in contrast to the other, well-drawn characters. However, the novel's strengths include a strong sense of place and atmosphere as well as a story with steadily mounting tension and an unexpected twist at the end. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By kaduzy VINE VOICE on August 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
William Sleator's evident fascination with quantum physics and different universes is on display again in this novel, which (like Strange Attractors before it) deals with bifurcations in the timeline. In "Strange Attractors" the characters actually used a time machine to visit these alternate timelines. This time around, all it takes is one sick boy and a maze.

There are several problems with this book. One is its attempt to be "modern". Sleator evidently wants to reach today's youth by incorporating their technology into his new books. This one begins with his main character instant messaging her friend, and he writes their conversation out exactly as he evidently imagines a teen would write an instant message. Maybe it's unfair to peg him for this one, but to me the entire effort seemed strained. He abbreviated some things but not others, and it didn't sound like a teenager, it sounded like an adult trying to sound like a teenager. It was also frustratingly vague at times. He never gave any specifics about what illness the sick boy actually has, though it would have taken only a hour's worth of internet research to find a disease or syndrome of some kind that had the symptoms he needed for his plot.

I was very disappointed by the ending. There are so many promising leads -- the fascinating probability clouds, the ever-changing vases, the hints at the other worlds -- that I could scarcely imagine all the places he could take the book in the end. But instead of something really fantastic, the ending is very ho-hum, and the "twist" at the end isn't handled well enough to really be a shocker. It's also not particularly scientific, or logical.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By .:antiokus:. on June 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
i first read William Sleator when i picked up The Green Futures of Tycho i fell in love, then i read the Boxes then i read this, this is the best book by William Sleator. Its creepy, it makes you think, its funny, and overall amazing. You learn all about Quantum Physics and fun stuff like that, so pick it up and read away
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on August 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Susan has been afraid of the garden even before her brother became ill: now she must push his wheelchair into the garden daily to satisfy his sense of impending action there, and the strange formal gardens seem to reach out for them with its mazes and mysteries. Can they survive the impossible choices the mazes bring? Once again Sleator has provided older young adult readers with the unexpected, satisfying fantasy he's so noted for. Not one of William Sleator's many novels are 'alike' in theme, aside from the overall fantasy genre: all offer unexpected twists - and The Last Universe is no exception. A top winner, highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Starlite on December 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I think this is one of the best books written by William Sleator, and I have read all of his. I love the concept of the maze and how the farther you go, the farther in time you go. The book is full of imagination and good details. If you are a sci-fi fan and like his books, you should read it!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harkius VINE VOICE on November 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
To get a real impression of what I thought about this book, I will simply list the strengths and the weaknesses.

Weaknesses:
- Weak and bad plot.
- Characters are obnoxious to a fault (whiny, pathetic, never pitiable the way they could be or heroic the way they SHOULD be).
- The constant use of "quantum" as a dangling adjective or unmodified noun.
- The dialogue.
- The non-dialogue.

Strengths:
- Uh...the science is real...kind of?

In essence, virtually everything about this book is bad. I picked it up for 50 cents, and ended up wanting to send it back to the author demanding a refund. I spent only two-three hours reading it, but even that was far longer than it was worth.

Truly one of the worst books I've read in recent memory, I would recommend this to...no one, really, unless you are a quantum mechanics fanboi who has read literally everything else in science fiction and fantasy. Everything.

Harkius
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JM on February 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
I am suprised at the few and lower ratings for this book! My sister and I agree that this is his best book by far. I first read the book in my early teens and read it a few other times as I got older. Everytime I read it, the maze scenes as the characters go deeper create creepy images in my mind that make me shiver. William Sleator does an excellent job at writing creative science fiction for young adults. Because of him, I have come to love science fiction. I have been searching for other books like his (yes, the overall ideas in his stories are not original, but the way he puts the story together is), and have not found too many. I also highly suggest: The House of Stairs, the Duplicate, Green futures of tycho, the Boy who Reversed Himself, and Strange Attractors.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rachel, Emily, Kristen, and Erin on May 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Last Universe by William Sleator combines science fiction, morals, and family in to one exciting novel. When a teenager named Gary becomes sick, Susan, his sister, is forced to take him to the mysterious garden although she is afraid of it. The garden was inherited from Great-Uncle-Arthur, a scientist that received the Lebon Prize for his work in quantum physics. The siblings, then, stumble upon an unpredictable quantum maze that will change their lives forever.

This breathtaking novel will keep the reader turning the pages until the very end. Although the concept of quantum difficult to understand, it adds suspense and biting wit to the story. The theory of quantum physics was well explained, too. Each character in the novel was built with a strong personality. The reader can easily recognize and understand each character's physical appearance, interests, and emotions. The plot of the story was very interesting and fast-paced. This book keeps readers reading late into the night.

The only weaknesses were the lack of detail and lifeless ending. There were too many assumptions the reader had to make about the setting of the story because details were not given. Readers were also missing some important facts. It is not known what illness Gary has or how Great-Uncle Arthur obtained Schrodinger's cat. The resolution was also very boring compared to the rest of the novel.

Sleator built up the plot with suspense and excitement. Then, he dropped everything with a disappointing ending that seemed rushed. Overall, The Last Universe is a suspenseful and exhilarating science-fiction read with just a few minor weaknesses. We would recommend this book for anyone who is or older than age nine.
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