Thursday 31 December 2015

The Last Kids on Earth

The Last Kids on Earth written by Max Brallier, illustrated by Douglas Holgate (Egmont UK)
PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 9781405281638

Reviewed by Liz Ledden

The Last Kids on Earth is an action-packed middle grade adventure novel described by its publisher as The Simpsons meets The Walking Dead. It does indeed meld humour with a heavy dose of monster and zombie slaying. At 13, protagonist Jack Sullivan is at the upper end of the intended eight plus readership. He not only has to survive a zombie apocalypse, but wishes to impress girls along the way. Enter June del Toro – a smart, sneaker-wearing, student newspaper editor (own spin-off series please!).

Jack teams up with science-loving best friend Quint, reformed bully Dirk and pet monster Rover to battle the zombies and monsters who menace the town, and to try and save June (who clearly doesn’t need saving, as she points out). Despite being 13 years old, the characters drive a vehicle called Big Mama and also have a tree-house dwelling, sure to appeal to readers’ own wishes for greater independence.

References to things like Cherry Pepsi, Oreos and middle school, mark this book as undeniably American, yet the good versus evil battles, humour and friendships hold universal appeal. US-based author Max Brallier has been paired with Melbourne illustrator and freelance comic book artist Douglas Holgate, whose dynamic drawings complete with comic-style speech bubbles work wonderfully to enhance an already very lively story.

This would be a great book to entice mid to late primary school-aged reluctant readers who still prefer a graphics-laden narrative, or for those who have ploughed through Andy Griffiths’ Treehouse series and are ready for something new.

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