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The Last Universe Hardcover – April 1, 2005
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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.
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
Top customer reviews
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For Susan, it is sad that her brother is slowly dying from a disease that physically weakens him, but it's also a drag. She's stuck at home, being kicked off her instant message chats with friends in order to take her brother, Gary, for walks in his wheelchair. He likes to go for walks around the expansive garden that comprises the backyard, though he isn't necessarily piqued by the idea that he can't actually walk himself. In the backyard they often run into the gardener from Cambodia, Luke, and his cat, oddly-named Sro-dee, though it makes sense later on (and for those who know a little about quantum mechanics). Lately, odd things have been happening in the garden. The pond where Susan and Gary's Aunt Caroline drowned has been growing lotus flowers, which Luke claims can't bloom in that sort of climate. Gary seems different too, sometimes more lively, sometimes sulky. He's interested in finding the maze that Susan can see from the kitchen window, but can't ever seem to find it in person, for some reason.
This story is about discovery. About discovering a scientific concept, a new part of the world, and trying to use it to improve oneself. Gary seeks a way to reverse his disease and is confident the maze holds the key. But discovery does not always go the way humans hope. This story shows what happens when people try to use the power of an unpredictable science for their own betterment. This isn't necessarily a story of hope or a story of warning, but a story about the unpredictability of life. No matter how strong-willed one is, and Gary and Susan are certainly strong-willed, the world doesn't bend to that will. I don't want to give away what happens, but I will end by saying that this is a story whose science elements makes it a much better story than it initially seems.
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. Younger children may be confused with the concept of quantum physics and will not be able to fully enjoy the novel. We liked this book very much. Our only big complaint is that William Sleator is not writing or publishing a sequel.
Written by Kristyn, Erin, Emily, and Rachel
This book has one major problem that the characters have to solve. The problem is that Gary has a disease that could kill him if he is not cured. They solve this problem when Susan and Gary stumble upon the maze. The maze can take them to universes where Gary is better or worse. In the first couple of universes, Gary is doing better. In the last couple of universes, Gary is the worst he has ever been. They soon find out that their great uncle Arthur created the maze. The book can be a little confusing, but it does have some parts that are interesting.
One thing that we found confusing about the book is when the characters mention quantum physics. Quantum physics is hard to understand and hard to explain. One thing that we found interesting about the book is how they travel to different universes. We would suggest this book for grades eight and higher.
Written By Robert, Matt, and Christian
Gary and Susan, two regular teenagers spending most of their summer at their houise while exploring the mysterious garden made by Great-Uncle Arthur is how this story begins. Gary is an invalid whom uses a wheelchair as a result of his illness, and because of this, Susan unwillingly has t5o wheel Gary around the garden wherever he wants to go. Susan dislikes the garden from the beginning which is a result because of her Great-Aunt Caroline drowning in the pond in the garden. With the help of Sro-dee, Luke, and Lisa, they begin to explore the world of quantum, other universes. With the works of Sleator, he completely twists the story around with the most shocking ending.
Written by Macy and Katie
In our opinion, The Last Universe was not a good book. The quantum physics were very confusing; therefore, children under twelve shouldn't read this book. The setup and overall plot were very complex, and it was difficult to follow the storyline. William Sleator could have gone into more detail about how Luke got Sro-dee, and he also could have diagnosed Gary with a disease. Overall, we would give this book two out of five stars. The idea for the story was good, but we agree that Sleator could have written it better. His publisher is smart because they won't let Sleator write a sequel.
Written by Matt, Nick, and Justin
William Sleater's, The Last Universe was a quantum thriller. Susan and Gary begin to notice strange things happening to their garden. The garden and maze were built by their Great Uncle Arthur. Susan, Gary's sister, has to take him outside every day because he can no longer walk. He is not paralyzed; he is just too weak to walk because of his disease. Gary loves the garden because it is peaceful and makes him feel good. Susan hates the garden because her great aunt Caroline drowned in the pond. They finally find the maze that before could only be seen from the bathroom window. Every time they go into this quantum maze, it makes Gary stronger. Will Susan overcome her fear and save her brother? Once you start reading this book, you won't be able to put it down. It has the most shocking ending.
Written by Brett and Austin
The Last Universe is very interesting book. I like this book because it kept me on the edge of my seat. Every chapter had a new surprise. My favorite part of the book is when they finally enter the maze because it is very unpredictable. William E. Sleator did a wonderful job on writing this book about two young kids and a mysterious garden. The Last Universe has a great ending. I wouldn't be surprised with this book had a sequel or turned into a movie.
William Sleator used a style of writing that had me hooked from the beginning of the book until the end of the book. He also was very descriptive and made characters with very credible actions. There was a great plot wasn't confusing. The part that was confusing to me was the quantum physics used in this book. Quantum was hard topic for me to understand.
I enjoyed this book because the plot had me hooked. I also liked the topic he chose for his book. Although this is an excellent book, the quantum is very confusing. I would recommend this book to people who like science fiction, people who can understand difficult concepts, and like a plot that moves at a fast pace.
Most recent customer reviews
- Weak and bad plot.Read more