- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 690 (What's this?)
- Series: Endling (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (May 1, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062335529
- ISBN-13: 978-0062335524
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 30 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Endling #1: The Last Hardcover – May 1, 2018
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★ “Fantasy lovers are in for a treat with this smartly paced, enthralling adventure. The heart and courage Byx and her companions must find as they stand up against unimaginable odds will inspire and delight. A sweeping fantasy epic that will have readers clamoring for a follow-up.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
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★ “A suspenseful, tautly drawn quest.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Endling: The Last blends careful and often lovely prose into a wild, fast-paced fantasy. Readers will fall in love with Byx and race with her through Nedarra, breathless and eager, thinking deeply all the way.” (New York Times Book Review)
“The first book in a new series, this volume will whet readers’ appetites for more of Byx’s fascinating world and the next stage of her quest. Give this to lovers of animal fantasies and environmentally minded readers.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
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From the Back Cover
with a sudden pang, my mother’s words the last time we were together: It’s never wrong to hope, Byx.
Of course, she’d also said: Unless the truth says otherwise.
Byx is used to being the youngest and the smallest. But for all her life, she’s also been part of something bigger—part of a family, part of a pack. Until the terrible day Byx finds herself alone, the last of the dairnes. The endling.
For dairnes, the pack is everything: root and branch, heart and soul. Byx is determined to see if the legends she’s heard over the years about others of her kind are true. She sets off on a quest, traveling through the war-torn kingdom of Nedarra. Along the way, she meets new allies who each have their own motivation for joining her: Tobble, the worthy wobbyk; Khara, the girl of many disguises; Renzo, the thief with honor; and Gambler, the principled felivet.
They start as Byx’s friends and become her family, and together they uncover a secret that will threaten the existence of not just the dairnes but every other creature in their world.
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First, lets start with a briefing on the socio-biology of the world of The Last.
The 6 governing races are the humans, raptiodons, felivets, terramants, natites and the dairne. The governing races can speak, make tools, learn, pass along learning and are capable of theurgy (magic). A human, the Murdano, excerts a great deal of power over all of the governing races.
Mezzitti are the species like wobbyks, starlons, and gorellis. They can communicate with the each other and the governing races, use tools, but they lack the ability to do magic.
Inferritti are the chimps, whales, crows, crickets and so on. They cannot communicate with the other species, use tools or do magic.
Now, I will first say that I loved this story of the last dairne, a dog-like sentient race that possesses the ability to discern truth. This ability is both appreciated and feared by the 5 other governing races. I don’t think it is much of a spoiler to point out that the gift is the basis of so much of the conflict in this story.
But the last dairne, Byx, is a young female. Her knowledge of the other sentient races and the dairne’s own skills is limited because her pack led a very secluded life. What she knows about the outside world is only through dairne word-of-mouth. She has no worldly experience whatsoever.
Early in the story, Byx saves a wobbyk in a daring feat, while at the same time escaping some humans that were hunting dairnes. Byx saved the wobbyk, Tobble, so honor demands that Tobble must save Byx three times. Mind you Tobble is tiny (but stout). It is this trip away from the dairne nest that sets in motion the events that will drastically change Byx’s life.
The hunters chasing Byx were being led by Khara – a girl that was masquerading as a boy and who also has a mysterious past. Later Khara will both save and capture Byx when Byx goes home to her nest and happens upon a group of the Murdano’s human troops massacring the very last dairnes, including her family. This makes Byx an Endling – the last of her race. The tragedy brings Khara and Byx together (and thereby, Tobble too).
It is a strange relationship between the human girl, the dairne and the tobble. Byx believes herself to be a captive, along with Tobble. Khara believes she is doing what is right for everyone. Since Byx doesn’t really have any other options, she doesn’t put up much resistance (well maybe a little). Still, the odd family always looks after each other and also looks for other opportunties.
There will be other additions to the family along the way, including Khara’s horse Vallino, the large cat-like felivet Gambler who would rather eat a dairne but refrains because Byx rescued him, and the thief who steals to feed himself Renzo.
As Byx gets closer and closer to Khara’s goal, the city of Cora di Schola, her despair increases, as does the danger. Cora di Schola will not be the last stop on the journey of this amazing group of characters.
Byx’s hand drawn Map of the First Colony, gives her hope that she is not truly the Endling.
While the story is aimed at the young, it is told in a very adult manner. I loved the characters the most, but the adventure is what kept me reading and will, I suspect, convince me to continue with the series.
Fair warning: There is no end of peril and action on this journey. It is not for the feint of heart!
I won an advance copy from the publisher so that I could bring you this honest review.
Favorite Quotes from The Last
Because – Tobble
“You save my life, I must save yours three time.”
“Because that’s the rule.”
“But why is that the rule?”
“Because I have three tails.”
I frowned. “But that doesn’t make any sense.”
“I don’t make the rules. But I do obey them.”
a conversation between Tobble and Byx
“Let me just say this: you do not want to see me mad. I am a terrible sight behold.”
“I’ll bet you can’t do this.”
I turned my head to see his huge ears spinning like tiny cyclones, twisting and untwisting.
“Intriguing,” I said. “What purpose does that serve?”
“None whatsoever,” Tobble said with a grin.
a conversation between Tobble and Byx
This hit me at a personal level, as Byx is dealing with sadness, but can't afford to slow down and process it. Still, it hits her now and again. I've been struggling with life becoming much more difficult recently. It's been painful, and I've had some amazing friends come and rally around me. I'm normally a positive, upbeat person, but I'm faced with something I can't just happy thoughts away and its been a bit of a struggle to learn to live under the weight of it. I think it's why I've read so many middle readers recently, because I want to stay upbeat. But this author always pushes readers to go hard places without over-doing it. At one Magical moment Byx opens up and it made me cry... "tears fell against my will... I felt guilty letting my pain show. These were my fellow travelers, taking risks for me, and it was my job to be strong. I wasn't the leader... but we'd all been through hardships..." 237 The guilt of sadness is new to me and this middle grade novel helped.
This book isn't overly-sad. I promise, but seeing Byx struggle and keep going, I just related in a way I haven't needed to before. There's something so comforting, yet so guilt-ridden about letting others share in your personal suffering. It's life, it's real, but it's humbling and ultimately, there will be moments for all of us where our burden feels too heavy to carry alone.
I'll definitely be awaiting the next installment. Also, for kids not dealing with sadness, there will be plenty of action and fight scenes to keep them happy. It just unexpectedly knocked me across the heart. Antsy kids will be able to breeze right by these moments and on into the sword fights and other awesome characters I didn't take time to mention.
Ready for the next in a delightful series ....