Li has a father and a sister who love her. A best friend, Mirabae, to share things with. She goes to school and hangs out at the beach and carefully follows the rules. She has to. Everyone she knows–her family, her teachers, her friends–is an alien. And she is the only human left on Earth.
Alright, I admit it. I judge books by their covers. I totally do. I’m going to guess most of you do, too. It’s okay, really. Here’s the things about book covers: they help us to mentally categorize books in our head. We all know a fantasy book from a mile away, even if that’s not a genre we’re familiar with, based solely on the cover. Almost 90% of the time. Sometimes publishers even use this to their advantage. When I was in college, right after Twilight became the sensation it was, some publisher recovered classic novels like Pride and Prejudice to looks just like Twilight. And it worked because we all judge books by their covers.
The first thing that caught my attention about The Last Girl on Earth by Alexandra Blogier was, in fact, the cover. The colors caught my attention; the juxtaposition of space and sea. The lonely girl on the edge of the water. It seemed so solitary. I used the cover to draw my own inferences about the book. I imagined something post-apocalyptic, a girl on the fringes of society. I imagined solitude and a person vs. nature kind of conflict.
The I read the description (see above) and I found that some of my inferences were correct and some were not. I decided to request a galley for this book in an attempt to read more YA Science Fiction, a genre that I tend to avoid for whatever reason.
A little bit of back story:
Sixteen years before the opening of The Last Girl on Earth, Earth has been invaded by the Abdoloreans and have destroyed the Human Race. They’ve studied them for research purposes and have eradicated humans as we know them. Li, the protagonist, however, is the last remaining human being. The man who raised her, the man she calls father, rescued her as the race crumbled.
The Abdoloreans are roughly humanoid, which makes it slightly easier for Li to blend in. Unfortunately for Li, however, the Abdoloreans are superior in many ways. They’re stronger, faster, smarter than the human race. They also have gills, but Li’s father has found a way to work around that.
The Abdoloreans are a little bit like Israel in that every citizen is conscripted for military service when they come of age. The bulk of their education is focused on training them for service in their armed forces. And the bulk of Li’s life has been preparing to make officer in the forces in an attempt to hide her secret.
Into my review:
This book was short, for starters. It was like a two-and-a-half-hour read. Not that I’m opposed to short books, but they don’t leave a lot of room for exposition and world building. Short books force the author to be a master crafter, weaving back story into the storyline as the action is happening. Unfortunately, in the case of The Last Girl on Earth there were more questions than answers in the world building.
It seemed as though The Last Girl on Earth relied on a lot of tropes in science fiction. Earth’s invaded. One survivor. Hides in the open. Chink in the armor is shown very early. Badass girl is taken down by love for a guy. It’s all very basic and very contrived.
That’s not to say it was bad. This book wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t my favorite. The writing left a lot to be desired. The story was fast-paced, however, and kept my attention. I am a notorious book abandoner, and I didn’t abandon it. That’s proof positive that it was not a bad book. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.
The characters had body and depth. They weren’t very complex. They weren’t very colorful. But they existed. They were believable. They were perfectly adequate. The story was perfectly adequate.
The Last Girl On Earth is available where books are sold January 23, 2018.
The Plucky Reader