The Last Orphans – N.W.Harris

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The adults are dying. Animals are creeping out and killing them all one by one as terrified children look on, unable to comprehend what’s happening. In a science lab a researcher sends out on final message asking the surviving children for help, who will take up this call?

Shane Tucker reluctantly takes up the mantle with a group of other teenagers who are now considered the elders in the town. Kelly, a girl who Shane fancies, joins him in taking control and looking after the younger children. Together with their group of worried teens they search out for a way to stop the animals from killing and to find out what exactly happened.

One of the best things about this book was there was action from start to finish. The animal’s actions were described in brutal detail which left little to the imagination; I liked the detail that went into it. YA novels sometimes forgo the gruesome detail but, the addition shows a respect for the young adult readers in being able to cope with these images. We are taken from one brutal scene to the next as the teenagers work their way closer to the heart of the city.

The characters themselves are well written but stereotypical. Shane comes with a lot of backstory which the reader learns in the first few chapters which is quite heavy and daunting to begin a novel with. Slow exposition throughout might have helped with this. The background to the others characters isn’t as talked about but I have a feeling that this would be explored in further books. The surviving characters (spoiler? Maybe?) each have traits that will be helpful in rebuilding the society which is something I had expected. Kelly seems like a good character, she has other priorities instead of focusing on a love interest such as her younger sister however; currently she seems quite two dimensional. As the series progresses I hope she develops more fight and depth.

More praise from this book is how Harris was not afraid to write a group rape scene and how the girls coped with this afterwards. I won’t say too much because, if I’m honest, I’m not sure what to say and don’t wish to take anything away from a survivor. Other books I have read looking at children/teenager survivors in apocalyptic situations don’t focus on or glaze over these events. I commend Harris for keeping it in and I hope that in following books we will be able to see how these survivors cope with the ordeal.

The book was good but I only gave it a three on Goodreads, I would have given it a three and half if I could have. The only reason it has a three is that it doesn’t bring anything “new” to this genre apart from the detail. The children are left without the parents, the protagonist takes on responsibility for looking after the younger children and they solve what has caused the situation to unfold while, taking on a group of “rebel” teenagers.

I am looking forward to reading the next book but I do hope something new will be added. The book reminded me of Michael Grant’s Gone series with the same kind of characters and unusual setting. I would recommend you to read it but, I will wait to read the second book before giving a more final response.

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