Thank you NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: March 1st, 2016
Synopsis: 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 never 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.
Argh! I am so conflicted about this book. There was a lot I liked about it but there were many problems that kept popping up that kept me from enjoying it fully. I love dystopian fiction, especially when it focuses on the breakdown of society. When I first read the synopsis I thought it was reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and the movie The Children of Men. Almost from the very beginning my confusion started. Things are “explained” but there are so many gaping holes in these explanations that things just don’t add up. There are so many instances of this which left me shaking my head, but I don’t want to include any spoilers in this review. There are a couple of examples I feel safe in sharing though. First, “The Dearth” is supposed to be a worldwide epidemic, yet almost everything in the story only detailed what the American response was. I guess the assumption was that all the world’s leaders agreed that this was the best course of action. Riight. Uh huh.
I was also perplexed as to the method behind the entire grand scheme itself. Zoey and the other women were all kidnapped as children and raised in this concrete bunker. They’re raised in this prison-like environment watched over by guards and sinister scientists whose sole purpose it seems is to indoctrinate their captives and torture them if they rebel. They’re kept in locked cells except for when their assigned clerics escort them to classes, the exercise area or the cafeteria. There are no real pleasures allowed. No books except for those approved, and even gum is considered contraband. I never understood why though, or what the purpose was behind treating them this way. Then, when each woman turns twenty-one, there’s a big ceremony at the end of which they walk through a door to “The Safe Zone”where they’re supposedly reunited with their families but it’s obvious that there’s something nefarious going on, and when the big reveal came it wasn’t a big surprise. My other issue was with Zoey who in many ways I liked. She’s tough, fearless, and loyal to a fault. There’s also a softer, more vulnerable side as is evidenced in her relationship with the son of her assigned cleric. But once she discovers what is really happening behind the scenes, she instantly transforms from a girl who’s had no exposure to technology let alone sophisticated weaponry into this:
It just wasn’t believable. Fortunately once Zoey escaped and was rescued by a group of rebels, the story got more interesting and I did wind up enjoying the rest of the book.
I know this review is kind of all over the place regarding my feelings towards the book, so I apologize for the confusion. In addition, I’m not even sure what age group this is intended for. Zoey is twenty-one, but she and most of her fellow captives seem more like teenagers in regards to their dialogue and decision making. If I was going to select a target audience I’d probably go with New Adult because of this, the subject matter, and the graphically violent scenes. Overall, The Last Girl isn’t a terrible read. I finished it in less than two days, and in the end I didn’t find myself wishing I had that time back. It starts with a great premise, throws in some fabulous action sequences, but in the end doesn’t really bring anything in that fans of this genre haven’t read before.