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The Last Place on Earth Hardcover – February 23, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—This mystery starts with lots of promise. Daisy's best friend and potential love interest, Henry, mysteriously disappears. After following the clues left in her suburban neighborhood, she and her brother trek to his last-known whereabouts deep in the California Redwoods. Here, Daisy finds herself in over her head and has to rely on her wit and courage to survive. Unfortunately, the writing in this book is not convincing. When Daisy is in danger, there is no fear in her voice. When she is panicked, there is no anxiety. The protagonist maintains a flat tone, full of sarcasm and benign pop culture references. Despite this, the mystery is full of twists and turns with teenage jolts of humor and angst that will attract reluctant readers, especially fans of Caroline B. Cooney and Joan Lowery Nixon. VERDICT A secondary purchase for reluctant readers who love mysteries.—Jaclyn Anderson, Madison County Library System, MS
"Sixteen-year-old Daisy Cruz hasn't heard from her best friend Henry Hawking for days. She's worried that an awkward moment they shared has damaged their friendship, but as the days pass, she knows it has to be more. Also, why is everyone at school suddenly falling ill? A note on Henry's desk leaves Daisy certain that he's in danger, and additional clues lead her deep into California's Los Padres National Forest, and finally to an underground bunker. Then things get really weird. Snow (Bubble World) presents a quirky entry into the "Is this it for humanity?" genre, as Daisy is thrust into a potential apocalypse she is ill-equipped to handle. Daisy's engaging voice and dry wit are a real highlight, especially where her survivalist ineptitude is concerned ("Did you know that straight bleach can actually burn a hole in your clothes? Neither did I!"). Themes of loyalty, friendship, and family bonds are the foundations of a winning story filled with small, poignant moments that, against a background of uncertainty, don't feel small at all." --Publishers Weekly
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At first Daisy thinks maybe is has something to do with their last awkward encounter. But the longer Henry is missing, the more Daisy worries--especially when she finds a note on Henry's desk that says "Save Me." Was it a sudden relocation because of witness protection? An alien abduction? Something even less plausible? Could it have something to do with all of her classmates that are getting sick?
Following Henry's trail leads Daisy into California's wilderness and straight to Henry's (and his family's) biggest secret in The Last Place on Earth (2016) by Carol Snow.
The Last Place on Earth is a strange little book where the mystery surrounding a missing friend quickly morphs into a story about a plague, survival, doomsday preppers, and a really awkward first kiss.
Heavy-handed exposition and erratic pacing unfortunately dilute the overall impact of an otherwise suspenseful and surprising story.
Daisy is an enterprising and sincere narrator as her search for Henry moves in unexpected directions.Her humor and the "will they or won't they" romance she has with Henry keeps the plot moving and adds heart to this unusual story.
The Last Place on Earth is has short chapters and numerous plot twists that make it ideal for reluctant readers and middle grade readers looking to transition into YA titles. An excellent choice for fans of survival stories and post-apocalyptic tales as well as readers who prefer their romances sweet and comfortably PG.
Possible Pairings: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway, No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss, Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle, The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes, Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson, Starters by Lissa Price, Catch & Release by Blythe Woolston
The problem with this book is that it is essentially two stories in one, and the one you read in the blurb is only the first half. I wouldn't take the novel at face value; if anything, I would say there is a good chance someone will underestimate how much there is to this.
With that being said, it's a slow moving novel. It's character driven and has very little in the way of outside conflict. I would even go so far as to say that even though there is a rather large influencing factor surrounding our characters, that event takes a backseat to the relationships between everyone. I can't reveal too much without spoiling what the big event is in the book, but suffice to say that I couldn't care less about it. I was much more focused on the relationship between Henry and Daisy. It was one of the first times in a while that a budding relationship actually seemed realistic, complete with misunderstandings and miscommunication and resentment.
I enjoyed it quite a bit. Quite a bit more than I thought I would, truth be told. This is the perfect book for younger YA readers and I think it'll find its niche.
I loved Daisy as a character — she has few natural survival skills, but she's smart, and her witty sense of humor had me laughing even as I was biting my nails from the suspense. I don't want to give any spoilers, but I can say there were lots of twists and turns — including a big plot twist I didn't see coming. Five stars from me.