I received this book for free from Purchased in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Last Wild by Piers Torday
Published by Penguin Group USA on 2014-03-18
Genres: Action & Adventure, Animals, Humorous Stories, Young Adult
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In a world where animals no longer exist, twelve-year-old Kester Jaynes sometimes feels like he hardly exists either. Locked away in a home for troubled children, he's told there's something wrong with him. So when he meets a flock of talking pigeons and a bossy cockroach, Kester thinks he's finally gone crazy. But the animals have something to say. And they need him. The pigeons fly Kester to a wild place where the last creatures in the land have survived. A wise stag needs Kester's help, and together they must embark on a great journey, joined along the way by an overenthusiastic wolf cub, a military-trained cockroach, a mouse with a ritual for everything, and a stubborn girl named Polly. The animals saved Kester Jaynes. But can Kester save the animals?
The first thing that struck me about The Last Wild by Piers Torday is the brilliantly colored cover. It’s eye catching with cool typography. The concept of the book, however, dug it’s claws into me and I was hook line and sinker for Torday’s middle grade debut. Imagine a world without animals. Imagine a world without fruits or vegetables. Imagine a world where one corporation controls everything and people are encouraged to live strictly in cities. This is the world of The Last Wild and it’s one that does not underestimate it’s young reader. Speaking of which, if you have a smart young, thoughtful reader in your family or household, this book would make a great gift for them.
Kester Jaynes is at reform school in this tower. School is kind of terrible, no one is particularly kind to him. You see, Kester has been placed in the reform school because he has not uttered a single word since his mother died. His father, a veterinarian, is still at home in the city of Premium. One day, Kester is eating when a cockroach appears by his side and starts talking to him. No one else can hear the cockroach, only Kester. What’s even stranger is that Kester can talk back. Unfortunately, one of the wardens catches Kester being kind to the cockroach and sends him to isolation. No fear though, because a group of 100 pigeons busts Kester out and transports him to the last wild, the very last place in the world where animals are still alive. It is then that animals tell Kester he is their only hope for survival. The animals are hoping that Kester can help them find a cure for the disease they call the berry eye. The Last Wild is all about Kester’s journey to save the animals, while he discovers just how courageous and brave he can be.
Readers who enjoy character development will love Kester Jaynes. He begins the book as a timid kid who does not say a single word and transforms into a leader. It’s amazing to see that transformation happen quite organically. Kester is loyal and kind as well. He is faced with some hard decisions. Fortunately, Torday does not take the easy way with his characters. Instead, Kester is a rather complex person and interesting to read about. The other characters are worth talking about too. There is the stag, who is the leader, at first, and he’s so brave and honorable, I think people will admire him. There’s a girl named Polly who plays a pretty special role. There’s the cockroach, called the General. For comic effect, there’s this white pigeon who says the most off the wall, out of order things. It’s quite amusing. Torday’s characterization is pitch perfect in The Last Wild.
The Last Wild has some pretty big themes such environmentalism and the impact of big megalomanic corporations. Torday writes these themes in a way that will not go over the heads of young readers and may perhaps spark an interest in the world at large for the reader. This is a book that causes one to question human impact on the environment and what we can do to be good stewards of the planet. It’s a book where it questions big huge corporations that control the entire food supply to the point where all crops and animals are destroyed. There is pathos in Torday’s writings, which is entirely appropriate for a world without wild things. The book is heavy and sad at times, yet various characters come along to lighten the mood, such as a brave young wolf cub and a dancing harvest mouse. Ultimately, there is more hope to this book than there is dark themes. I highly recommend The Last Wild by Piers Torday if you are looking for a book to challenge your child and get them thinking and talking.