The Last Girl by Joe Hart
Thomas & Mercer: 3/1/16
eBook review copy; 386 pages
Dominion Trilogy #1
The Last Girl by Joe Hart is a recommended dystopian thriller.
Zoey is not the last girl, but one of 7 girls who live in a well-guarded
compound called the ARC run by the NOA (National Obstetric Alliance).
They have all been taught by Miss Gwen about the mysterious dwindling
birthrate of females that began years ago and the plague that hit and
wiped out most of the population outside the walls where they are kept
protected and safe. They are kept there for the common good of all. When
the girls turn 21 they are told that they will be released and reunited
with their parents.
Zoey doesn't believe the propaganda they are being told, but she has
nothing concrete or firm to base her suspicions on, besides a well-tuned
skepticism and suspicion that all is not as it seems. The girls are
under heavy, armed supervision, and the guards and men who care for them
are mainly creepy, sadistic control freaks with perverse rules to
subjugate the girls, who are their test subjects. Zoey longs for freedom
and knows that she must find a way out soon because she is just a few
days away from her 21st birthday. She is certain that the girls are
being lied to and knows that she will not be meeting her parents. Zoey
is confident that what awaits her via those who run the NOA will not be
for her good, or even for the common good of all. Zoey must discover if
she has the inner strength to escape.
I really wanted to love The Last Girl based on the description so
I was disappointed that the writing is uneven, at best. The actual
technical writing ability is good, but things fall apart in the
narrative with the plot development. There were simply too many
questions raised as I was reading about various facts and choices in the
storyline. I kept telling myself to ignore the nagging questions I had
about things and just see where the story heads to next. That is good,
because I was invested enough in the story to keep reading, but the fact
that questions were cropping up is telling.
Chiefly, and the first question most readers will encounter, is the poor, misogynistic treatment of these girls.
So let's think about this. (It's not a spoiler since this all happens
early.) Okay, these girls are supposed to be humanities last hope for
the survival of the species. They, the NOA, are looking for the
keystone, the girl who can have female babies. Pretty grim stuff,
considering they have only 7 girls to pin humanities survival on. So, do
they keep the girls happy? Do they make sure they feel loved, cared
for, important? Do they make them comfortable so they want to stay and
help humanities chance for survival?
No. They treat them like prisoners. The girls are threatened with
punishment; the guards are there to keep the girls in line. The girls
sleep in cells, have just two sets of clothes, and attend indoctrination
classes with a shrew who hates them. Some of them remember being taken
from their parents. They don't get to have a last name. They are simply
living test subjects. You might not really care about them, but have
some smarts and at least act like you do so they are more compliant
without the armed guards threatening them.
Now, this is not an isolated question about the plot, there are others
but I don't want to include spoilers. Additionally, the uneven part is
found in the fact that Zoey is clueless on some things but not other
things that she should be clueless about, and there are several very
convenient and predictable occurrences.
I did finish The Last Girl, which counts for something. Despite
the fact that there were several points were I was ready to set it
aside, there were more places where I wanted to know what happened next
and see some questions resolved. This was a good airplane book. It will
keep you engaged but you won't cry if you lose or misplace it.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy
of Thomas & Mercer via Netgalley for review