Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Last Wild by Piers Torday

I have to admit that when I picked up a copy of The Last Wild I didn't know anything about it. I do not know how I had missed it for so long, and I'm rather ashamed I did. The reason I did pick it up was for two simple lines on the back of the book: 
1. There is a flock of excited pigeons in his bedroom. 
2. They are talking to him.
I wondered what pigeons would say if they could talk, so I bought the book with no other expectations.

Kester is a boy living inside a quarantine zone. The world outside has become dangerous due to the Red Eye virus that has run rampant and killed out all the wildlife - except the animals known as vermin (pigeons, rats, cockroaches). Contact with any animal is avoided, in case they are carrying the deadly Red Eye. But soon Kester, who hasn't been able to speak for years, discovers he can communicate with the pigeons and even the cockroach who help him make a dramatic escape back into the quarantine zone. And it's here that Kester learns the truth: not all of the animals have died. There are only a few left, and their numbers are dwindling as they are ravaged by the disease. But they now have a human who they can talk to, who they can convince to help them find a cure for the Red Eye, so that the last remaining wild can be saved.

Rather amusingly, I had been trying to avoid dystopian books for a while. After The Hunger Games, it seemed like there were too many showing up on the market with very little to offer. So I'm incredibly pleased I wasn't aware this was a dystopian book, otherwise I would not have picked it up, and I would have missed out on a brilliant story.

This is a great book for readers who are interested in dystopian fiction, but perhaps not old enough to get into the more popular YA titles of this genre or want to avoid the ones that are particularly dark. That's not to say those who enjoy the YA titles won't enjoy The Last Wild - in fact, they may find it a refreshing take on dystopias. With adventure and hints at fantasy, this book is a great read with a strong message about the importance of wildlife and nature. Kester is a fascinating lead character who will appeal to both boys and girls. The animals who accompany him are equally fantastic and quite comical at times.

The Last Wild has just been listed on the Waterstones Children's Book of the Year shortlist, and its sequel, The Dark Wild, is due out at the beginning of April. So it's time to start reading it if you haven't already. You can buy The Last Wild from Quercus books here.

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