THE LAST WILD by Piers Torday


Age Range: 8 - 12
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This fantasy journey with a post-apocalyptic setting combines a great fondness for animals with an appreciation of the freakish.

Kester’s spent the past six years at Spectrum Hall Academy for Challenging Children, a penal institution with a Roald Dahl vibe. Spectrum Hall jails kids who steal or eat too much. Kester hasn’t spoken since his mother died, but is he imprisoned for that? Food is “bright pink gloop” that always, always tastes like prawn-cocktail crisps. The whole country eats this corporate-manufactured formula, since the red-eye virus killed all animals except useless varmints and contaminated all crops and vegetables. In this bleak environment, Kester befriends a cockroach—who, with hundreds of fellow cockroaches, busts Kester out of jail one shocking day through a fetid drain. Pigeons carry him to a “wild,” a group of free wild animals in hiding. Although he can’t speak aloud, Kester can communicate silently with varmints and animals. The red-eye is real, the animals are dying, and Kester must evade a murderous, stereotypically disabled bad guy and ride a majestic stag cross-country (with the cockroach and other critters) to reach his veterinarian father, who might have a cure. Present-tense narration creates immediacy and emphasizes Kester’s limited knowledge.

Although Kester’s a classic special-kid-who-doesn’t-know-it, the reserved narrative tone and tender yet peculiar view of animals give this piece its own offbeat flavor. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 18th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-670-01554-2
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2014


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