Friday, July 3, 2015

Another Thing About Those Wild Things

The Last Wild by Piers Torday, Penguin Young Readers Group, $8.99, ages 10-14

As I shared in my last post, I've been experiencing some creature (dis)comforts this summer. Yes, yes, I know (this is for those of you who've read my last post) the goat and the bear made their only appearances in stories told to me, and some folks might not even consider spiders and moths creatures, as the word creature generally conjures up images of things bigger and more fierce than spiders and moths. Whether I actually saw them, or merely heard tell, regardless of how fascinatingly annoying or just annoying they are, goats, bears, spiders and moths have kept me connected to the animal kingdom. A connection to the animal kingdom is exactly what twelve-just-about-to-be-thirteen year old Kester Jaynes doesn't have anymore because he lives in a world where animals no longer exist. They were wiped out by red-eye, a "disease worse than a nuclear bomb", and which "turned animal bodies and brains into mush and, just before they died, made their eyes burn bright red like they were on fire inside." Kester, who is a student, well, really a prisoner, at Spectrum Hall Academy for Challenging Children in the Quarantine Zone, hasn't been able to speak a word in six years (when he tries to speak nothing happens), ever since the night he was bundled out of his home in the middle of the night and separated from his scientist father. What's really scary is that Kester doesn't know WHY he's imprisoned there. With help from some "varmints" (cockroaches and pigeons with whom he CAN communicate! Who knew!) Kester escapes from Spectrum Hall and is taken to a hidden enclave, the home of the only surviving animals in the land. This environmental thriller/science fiction adventure is the first in a series by Torday and is the beginning of Kester's journey to save the Last Wild, as well as prevent society from being taken over by the evil head of an all-powerful corporation. He isn't alone in his fight. A wise stag, the independent, fierce, and funny Polly (an actual human girl), the bossy General of the cockroaches, a determined wolf-cub, and a mouse who expresses all emotions through dance accompany Kester on his dangerous race against time. This is an entertaining and exciting book that presents a frightening picture of greed and corruption and forces readers to think about our precious relationship with the natural world.

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