Book Review – The Last Girl by Joe Hart

I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. I definitely recommend it as an action packed read.

The Last Girl is a dystopian thriller by author Joe Hart. Here is the summary:

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.

The first half of the book introduces the world inside of the compound, and Zoey’s desire to escape. I loved this part. It was fascinating. I can’t NOT mention the great Margaret Atwood here. There is just something about dystopias, and learning about all of the craziness of their worlds that I love.

In the second half of the book, Zoey makes her escape. There is a whole NEW world for her to discover, of what life is like for the rest of America outside of the compound. It’s a little slow at first because she is just running away, but the thriller/action parts keep up throughout.

What the Last Girl has going for it:

  • Exciting read, page turner, lots of action
  • Awesome female protagonist. Not going to lie, I was surprised Joe Hart made her come off the page so well. Sure there could be more character development, but this isn’t Twilight! It’s an action packed thriller!
  • Likable side characters that aren’t flat. I read some negative reviews that disagreed on this point, but I think that the side characters are great, likable, hatable, lovable, and your opinion of them might change.
  • A lot of people die, but everyone doesn’t die at the end. I was afraid there would be up to 6 more deaths than there were, and was incredibly glad when there weren’t. Though those characters might all still die in books two and three 😦

What I wasn’t a fan of, but I got over it:

  • It’s written in the present tense. “Zoey goes to the window.” It was weird at first, but I got used to it.

What other people hated, and I have to disagree with:

  • Zoey can aim and shoot a gun/defend herself. Yes, maybe she was a better shot than she should have been. Most of the gun hits were at close range though, or lucky. I don’t think the grappling/fight scenes were unreasonable though. She is usually about to get owned before she manages to scratch or bite someone’s face off to free herself.
  • Gratuitous violence/attempted rape scenes. Okay, so maybe this book was a little violent. Okay, a lot violent. I’m not adding that to the negatives though, because it is definitely warranted. If this scenario actually happened, YES it would be that bad with the control/violence/rape attempts. I struggled at first with the question of, if there are so few women, why aren’t they cherished? Sure the reader WANTS them to be, but it wouldn’t be the case. Look around today. Most men objectify women with catcalls and jeers. Rape happens. After years of wars and with no government in this dystopia, of course the majority of the surviving (male) populace is going to be terrible.
  • One negative review I saw compared Hart to Atwood saying that Atwood succeeded where Hart failed: “The violence is mostly plot relevant, however the sexual content is gratuitous in nature, and the novel suffered for it.” That argument doesn’t even make sense. If anything I think it should be reversed to say that not all of the violence is necessary. The attempted rapes scenes are shocking at first, BECAUSE THEY ARE MEANT TO BE. When you look back on them though, they make complete sense. And, SPOILER: no one actually gets raped in The Last Girl. I probably would have hated the book if women actually got raped all of the time. But BTW, plenty of women are raped in Margaret Atwood books, because it is realistic! It’s like only a woman can write about rape for it to be okay or something. I disagree. If anything, in regards to the ending, Hart made a more enjoyable book than Atwood tends to do. Most of Margaret Atwood’s books have depressing endings. They are realistic, but also bummers (P.S. I miss grad school. Can you tell?).

I think what I loved so much about the book is that it surprised me. I didn’t expect to like it so much. Sure, I could nitpick and complain that it isn’t like so many other kinds of books, but I think that’s why I liked it. I plan to read the other two books in the series, though honestly, I’m worried that I won’t like the second one. The last sci-fi thriller trilogy that I read had an awful book two, but we’ll see.

I also plan to read more of Joe Hart’s books, though I’m nervous about reading something in the horror genre.

 

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