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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

ARC Review: The Last Human by Zack Jordan

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45895112-the-last-human?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=xtIHOqaEg7&rank=1
Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Sarya is the civilized galaxy's worst nightmare: a Human.

Most days, Sarya doesn't feel like the most terrifying creature in the galaxy.

Most days, she's got other things on her mind. Like hiding her identity among the hundreds of alien species roaming the corridors of Watertower Station. Or making sure her adoptive mother doesn't casually eviscerate one of their neighbors. Again.

And most days, she can almost accept that she'll never know the truth--that she'll never know why humanity was deemed too dangerous to exist. Or whether she really is--impossibly--the lone survivor of a species destroyed a millennium ago.

That is, until an encounter with a bounty hunter and a miles-long kinetic projectile leaves her life and her perspective shattered.

Thrown into the universe at the helm of a stolen ship--with the dubious assistance of a rebellious spacesuit, an android death enthusiast on his sixtieth lifetime, and a ball of fluff with an IQ in the thousands--Sarya begins to uncover an impossible truth.

What if humanity's death and her own existence are simply two moves in a demented cosmic game, one played out by vast alien intellects? Stranger still, what if these mad gods are offering Sarya a seat at their table--and a second chance for humanity?

The Last Human is a sneakily brilliant, gleefully oddball space-opera debut--a masterful play on perspective, intelligence, and free will, wrapped in a rollicking journey through a strange and crowded galaxy.


Review:
How vast is the universe?  What would it be like to be the literal last human in existence?  These are the questions explored in the book, The Last Human, by Zack Jordan.  While I thought the world-building and characters were really fun and compelling, the book went off the rails at the middle and didn't really recover. 

What I Liked:
World-Building:
The author does a wonderful job of creating a reality with millions of different species.  I really enjoyed that each species was assigned an intelligence "tier", which determined what type of jobs someone could have and if they could become a Network citizen.  

The space station where Sarya lived also was really well thought out to account for all the different types of beings that would live and interact on it.  The architects in this story had to think about how a living space would accommodate so much variety.   
 
Characters:
Sarya:
Sarya is living a lie.  She is human, but must claim to be a different life form (because there hasn't been a human sighting in a thousand years).  She also has been adopted by a being from a completely different species.  Being so raised, she is an interesting mix of defiant, sulky human teen, and a Daughter of a killer hunter.  Sarya is tough, resilient, and heart-breakingly lonely.  I cheered for her every step of the way. 

Shenya The Widow:
Shenya The Widow seems to be a giant killer spider who has adopted Sarya (cool, right?).  It was so fascinating to see Shenya's point of view, from how repulsive Sarya looks to her, to her unique views on parenting.  This was a really memorable, and fun, character.

The Observer:
Our understanding of The Observer shifts several times over the course of the story.  At times, he is a kindly, helpful fellow.  Other times, his motives are less than clear.  This made him really fascinating.  You never knew what his motives were until the very end.

What I Was Mixed About:
Human Exceptionalism:
Of course we all see the human race as pretty awesome, right?  But why would the Human Race be put on such a pedestal among millions of species?  I didn't think the explanation that the author gave was very convincing.  Basically, it was supposed to be because we are just so darn independent!  We hate having an authority above us, and that is why we are so dangerous.  However, throughout human history authoritarian government systems have been the norm.  It's only in the last few hundred years that self-governance has even been attempted.  With that in mind, this argument just wasn't convincing.

What I Didn't Like:
Pacing:
This book is a rip roaring adventure...until it's not.  The story begins as a fast-paced chase with Sarya being pursued by several different species who want her dead.  This is fun.  But then, the action comes to a screeching halt, with the introduction of a long, philosophical exploration of sentience and the vastness of space.  This is not fun.

Confusing Plot:
This drawn-out study in how humans can't really comprehend the enormity of space is deliberately confusing.  Scenes stop abruptly, and then start up again with little explanation as to what just happened (several transitions read, "...and then Sarya's mind explodes").  The author may have done this to show how our puny minds can't possibly understand any of this, but it was frustrating and made me feel stupid.  

Plus, as I said earlier, it went on and on, dragging down the plot.  I think this could have been edited down and it would have gotten the point across.  It would have made for a much more enjoyable reading experience.

Rating: 




Release Date:  March 24th, 2020

Author:  Zack Jordan

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Genre:  Science Fiction

Pages:  448 Pages

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  An uneven, but interesting book.  I would read this from the library.
 
 
  
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1 comment :

  1. I think this is one I'll skip over! It seems like a book about a subject I've never read about before but it just sounds like I wouldn't enjoy the whole stopping/starting/never finishing scenes out thing it has going on.

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