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The Last Man Paperback – November 1, 2013
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Top Customer Reviews
Most modern books of this sort spend 10 pages on life "before" and the remainder of the book on adjusting to life "after." Shelley uses the opposite approach in The Last Man, and the majority of the book takes place before a mysterious plague begins to destroy the fabric of civilization. Shelley's writing is beautiful and intelligent, and her characters are highly idealized - but no more so than you would expect in a book that is presented as the memoirs of the last man alive on earth.
I think the best way for the modern reader to approach this book is with an open mind. At the beginning, I was constantly looking for clues and signs of some impending doom, and Shelley does nearly everything possible to prevent the reader from foreseeing when and how things will begin to come apart. I would recommend trusting in her ability as an author and just giving yourself over to this book. That's what I did after a few chapters, and I was pleasantly surprised by the twists and turns. Shelley focuses entirely on the human drama with little attention to the science behind the plague. She herself was the lone survivor of her group of friends and she outlived most of her children, and I think you can feel her pain and loneliness in the narrator, Verney.
This book is beautifully written and the characters debate some of the major philosophical issues of the time (of all times, perhaps). While the subject itself is melancholy, Shelley is protective of her readers and spares us most of the grim details.Read more ›
Verney tells the story of his life. Through mistakes of his father, he and his sister, Perdita, are cast out of a happy life into one of poor lonely orphans. He forms a plan of vengeance against the people who brought this ruin. The main culprit was the king, who is dead. When the king’s son, Adrian, comes to Verney’s town he sets his plan in motion. However, Adrian turns out to be a great supporter of Verney’s late father. Verney rises from his life of despair and longing with the help of Adrian, who becomes his lifelong best friend. This circle of six friends: Verney, Perdita, Adrian a poet and intellectual , Raymond a hero nobleman (who marries Perdita) , Adrian’s sister, Idris (who marries Verney) and Evadne, a Greek princess, have many ups and downs in their lives . Eventually, most end up married with children and quite happy and settled. But Perdita’s husband, Raymond, cheats on her with Evadne. So Perdita leaves Raymond. A war between the Greeks and the Turks break out and Raymond fights in it as does Evadne. She dies on the battlefield and Verney finds her body and buries her. As Raymond is on his death bed form mortal war wounds, Perdita goes to him and forgives him. When he dies, she kills herself.
Soon after this an epidemic begins. It’s unknown what causes it or how it spreads. It goes from country to country. England is still untouched by it.Read more ›
I did not expect any less from "The Last Man," though I was surprised at its wandering and staid narrative. It is an apocalyptic novel unlike those written today, for Mary Shelley does not envision a hellish doom brought about by zombies or artificial intelligence or totalitarian regimes or climatic revelations. The end of humanity is frightening enough, especially if a single person is left all alone. Shelley quietly and ever so slowly lures her reader down a road that follows her hero from love and abundance to a forlorn state of social destitution and emptiness.
I cannot begin to give a summary of Lionel Verney’s story since it unravels in an unnecessarily belabored manner, the reason for which seems obvious only when one reaches the story’s conclusion. The labor involved in reading this kind of novel cannot be measured in hours, but must be measured in personal transformation. One becomes someone else by finishing a novel so utterly lacking in story development but rich in philosophy. My heart was lightened, and my labor softened, only in the last two chapters when Verney becomes that which Shelley has promised the reader all along.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very wordy in Parts and very sad ending which was obvious by the title, left me empty and depressed, do not get us to like characters just to kill them all of at the end!Published 2 months ago by nero
The book dragged a lot. I started skimming to get through it.Published 3 months ago by Margaret Green
Move over Frankenstein!
I always thought that no novel was as horrifying as " Frankenstein, " in the way it was written! Read more
I can be even more insensitive than normal with this review because Mary Shelley is very dead. This book is terrible enough to make it into the introduction of my first book as... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Nick Angelis
Interesting for its historic value to science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts.Published 20 months ago by Rand B. Lee
This is the only other book I've read by Mary Shelly other than Frankensten. While it was a very good book on its own,I guess I'm tainted a bit by "Franks" majestry and... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Ralph DeThomas
I do not think you can write about the future if you live i the pastPublished 22 months ago by Hazel Anderson