The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld
Genre: Young Adult
Published by: Razorbill, 2006
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: I don’t think I’ll be reading this one again. But I’m definitely going to re-read some of his others.
Reviewed by Indiana
In this end-of-the-world setting, where cannibals are taking over and civilization is crumbling, the only thing left to do is become famous, before it all comes tumbling down. At least that’s the thought process of Pearl as she starts to get her second band off the ground. With a best friend with a voice as sick as her cannibalistic-self, a drummer who knows more than she lets on, and two intriguing guitarists, Pearl’s band dreams are just falling together as the world falls apart.
But it turns out that music can save more than Pearl’s dreams: it turns out it just might stop the fall of everything else.
The Last Days felt like a weird version of The Walking Dead. A lot less violent, but a similar “apocalypse by disease” idea. Since it was set in New York City, there were several scenes on streets overloaded with garbage and rats, but devoid of people that struck me. After having lived there for awhile, I can attest to how creepy that would be (not that any other reader can’t as well, but still).
I enjoyed Pearl’s character, especially because her responses to the potential collapse of society was “let’s get famous.” She’s just a funny teenager in a lot of ways, but she’s also the responsible one throughout the book. Pearl keeps everything together and doesn’t give into any emotional drama that comes with being a teenager and being in a band.
The Night Mayor Tapes were a great addition to the story (very Handmaid’s-Tale-eque). They gave some interesting introductions and backstory of how the disease was able to carry on throughout time. The way the tapes were tied into the end of the book and the reader wasn’t just left wondering where they came from.
However, I didn’t get a clear understanding of the sickness that was overtaking the world, or the creatures that the band had to fight with their music. I get that the band was able to call up the worms carrying the disease because of Minerva’s voice. But I wish more time had been spent on explaining that portion of the story.
I also wondered how teens would react to it if the book came out today. Some of the language seemed dated and I think the perspectives of teens today are vary greatly from those of 11 years ago. Westerfeld definitely nailed down the complicated relationships of teens. But I wonder if today’s teens would identify with the characters.
Regardless of how I felt about The Last Days, Westerfeld is still one of my favorite authors and I’m planning to delve into his Leviathan series next.
“I’d watched too many schoolmates graduate into mental institutions, into group homes and jails, and I knew that locking people up was paranormal – against normal, not beside it. Locks didn’t cure; they strangled.” Scott Westerfeld.