I adored The Last 8, and while I liked how it it ended, I always love books answering the “what comes after [we saved the world]?” question.
Clover Martinez and The Last Teenagers on Earth are busy exploring the galaxy after leaving earth behind…even if they can’t help but be a little homesick.
So when their ship receives a distress signal from their former planet, they hope against hope that it means other survivors. But as soon as they arrive, they realize something’s deeply wrong: strange crystal formations have popped up everywhere and there’s some sort of barrier keeping them from leaving.
Seeking the origin of the formations and the reason for the barrier, the group discovers a colony of survivors hidden in the mountains. But the survivors aren’t who they seem…
“The thrilling conclusion to The Last 8 duology that follows the Last Teenagers on Earth as they head home to a now-hostile planet.”
I received an ARC and reviewed honestly and voluntarily.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Content warnings include: post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, flashbacks to suicide attempts, imprisonment, exclusion of people for not being “normal”, meeting absent parent for the first time; mentions of death of parent, absent parent, death.
I loved Clover in the first book, and I still love her now. Not only is she aromantic, which is a rep I desperately want to see more of, she also has one of the most unique personalities I’ve encountered in YA fiction. Not necessarily because this sort of personality doesn’t exist – but because it feels like it’s often shied away from, particularly for girls. Clover is calculating, the opposite of outgoing, rational and likes to hold back and observe rather than get involved especially when it comes to interperonal interactions, but she also isn’t afraid to be hands on and take responsibility. I love her love for the sky and her love for her friends, and how seeing them fight hurts her.
And most importantly, at no point does she turn around and say she’s “not like other girls”. Generally, her interests and skills, and those of the other characters, are never gendered in any way.
As in the previous book, some things about the plot just felt… overly convenient, or like obvious questions were just ignored until asking them wouldn’t call out inconsistencies. I still liked the plot a lot – there weren’t any outright plotholes, and had a great time reading the book, but it did irk me a little at times when things just seemed… too easy.
Which isn’t to say there isn’t tension or conflict. In fact, there is a lot. It switches between a big junk of action to barely anything happening while interpersonal dynamics and struggles took center stage for a big part of the book, before it switched back to action towards the end.
Some of the between-people things didn’t feel quite resolved, but at the same time they were issues that had obvious solutions in talking them out.
Plus, the characters are teenagers, so…
That said, I love these teens. The entire group is great and wonderfully diverse, though some definitely got more attention than others, and I would have loved to see more of each of them individually.
Overall I liked this series a lot. It’s a curious spin on alien invasion with great representations all around that doesn’t take any of the more popular tropes and dynamics, instead taking a wholly different direction that I loved to see.
You can find my review of book1 here.