The Last Girl by Joe Hart

Thursday, March 17, 2016

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The Last Girl by Joe Hart

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Pages: 386
Source: publisher in exchange for honest review
Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women.
Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away—told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.
Captivity is the only life Zoey has ever known, and escaping her heavily armed captors is no easy task, but she’s determined to leave before she is subjected to the next round of tests…a program that no other woman has ever returned from. Even if she’s successful, Zoey has no idea what she’ll encounter in the strange new world beyond the facility’s walls. Winning her freedom will take brutality she never imagined she possessed, as well as all her strength and cunning—but Zoey is ready for war. --Goodreads
The Last Girl by Joe Hart is the story of a time when the incidence of birthing a female child grows scarce. The government collects the few female children born in this devastating age, called the Dearth, and sequesters them in an isolated compound in order to protect them from the perils of a collapsing society.  The compound also researches the plague that causes the mutation in the embryonic birth cycle resulting in the lack of female births. The population of females 21 years old or younger when the novel begins is a mind-blowing total of seven with one girl about to graduate (become 21), Terra, and another due to turn 21 shortly thereafter, Zoey.  This story is told through Zoey’s perspective.  The reader is thrown into the story as Zoey worries over Terra’s graduation day because the graduating girls are taken through a set of doors, supposedly to be returned to their families residing in another section of the compound.  Zoey’s concern stems from the fact that once a girl graduates, none have ever returned.  The younger girls are always kept under constant guard and have never even seen any people other than each other, their guards (called clerics), cleric sons and administrative personnel.  If you put that in terms of a child’s pre-math lessons of what does not fit, one group becomes obvious.  Why are the cleric’s sons allowed access to the girls and why are they all each a similar age to the girl their father guards?

Out of the remaining six girls after Terra’s graduation, Zoey watches over the youngest girl, Lily,who is developmentally disadvantaged, and is best friends with one other girl named Meeka.  The other three girls seem malicious and are out to get Zoey, although I don’t really understand why.  Zoey dreams of being free from the compound to live life as she sees fit, free of a constant guard, free to read what she wants or to come and go as she pleases and free to associate who she chooses to associate with.  Zoey is not selfish though, as she wants to free all of the girls as well, whether friend or foe.  This is an impossible situation because she cannot confide in all of the girls because three of them would have her turned in and punished and the youngest doesn’t have the cognitive capabilities to understand the need for secrecy.  Punishments for breaking the rules are very stringent and abusive which is very odd for a group of girls who are supposedly being protected from what the outside world has turned into.  This is the world inside the compound where the first half of the book takes place and holds any claim to the science fiction category the novel is labeled.

The second half of the novel is like a totally different story altogether and is the post-apocalyptic section of the novel.  Some of the scenes in this section played in my mind like clips from the original Mad Max movie.  Then the new cast of characters arrived.  They were sometimes hard to keep straight, but one boy in particular left me wanting to hear more of his story which I hope
will be in one of the other books in this trilogy.  The main male protagonist of this section reminded me of a John Wayne character, sometimes tough but a strong man with a heart.

I have tried very hard to provide a sense of this novel without any spoilers.  Overall this novel was very good but the reader will question situations throughout the story that will not necessarily be fully resolved to their satisfaction by the end of the book.  Other issues feel quite gratuitous as if there only purpose is to touch on some of the recent societal and political issues that have been in the news, but don’t really add anything to this tale.

This novel does have a little something for everyone, a little romance , a little intrigue, good guys, bad guys, those who want change, those who want to have everything the way it was, some fights and flights, battles and a chance for the future.  It also leaves you thinking.  Who is to say which is the right way to ensure the best hope for the future.  Does the end justify the means?  Are we as a world population spoiled?  Do we have the right to be the master of our own individual lives even if it means our extinction?  I hope the next book releases soon so I can find out.


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