And yet here is another fantastic novel from an Australian author, but unlike the enchantment of Kate Forsyth’s The Wild Girl and Bitter Greens, The Last Girl is a young adult dystopian novel (one of two of a series) that is bleakly brilliant!
Danby is a typical teenage girl with an autistic younger stepbrother, a selfish stepmother, a father who excels at dad jokes and an eccentric mother who’s holed up in the Blue Mountains avoiding a high tech world. On Christmas morning everything changes when suddenly everyone can read each others thoughts, all except Danby’s. Within ten minutes, Danby’s world turns to chaos and suddenly she and her brother are forced to make her way to the her mother’s place in hopes of finding solace from the apocalypse.
Firstly, I loved how Adams set his novel in Australia as this is not done nearly enough. Danby’s trip from Sydney to the Blue Mountains is familiar, I know the towns and roads because they’re places I’ve actually been! Dystopian literature is dominated by American authors so it was a true pleasure to read something set closer to home (though I must admit I had the weirdest and freakiest dreams after reading this so perhaps it was a little too close to home).
Secondly, Adams exploration of social media and related tech devices in a world set in the not too distant future is exceptionally executed especially in addressing issues of bullying, trolling, and the sharing of information. When everyone has sudden access inside everyone else’s heads, Danby declares “our networks were now really peer-to-peer with no intermediary needed” (Adams 82) and the problems that arise are horrific as privacy is stripped completely.
There’s the potential for romance, and even a love triangle, but Danby’s reactions are realistic because, really, when the world is ending you don’t really have time to fall in love and she actively derives the mere thought of it: “Books and movies where heroine and hero were struck by instalove had always pissed me off” (Adams 339).
There is a lot going for this book: the setting, the character of Danby and the end of world scenario, and the only thing that annoys me is that local bookstores don’t carry it on their shelves. Definitely worth hunting down though.