The Last Reader


...it is an okay introduction to the world and a reasonable gauge of the author's skill as a writer, but might be a very nice addition for those who have read the longer book, 'Perfectible Animals'. ...

Sam is a scavenger, a child who survives by steeling from the rubbish in a world where no one but the rich are literate. Until one day, he finds a book. Driven to learn to read, he goes to the only man in the zone, an old man, who can teach him. But the price will be high.

Sam is a character I took to immediately and had genuine hope for. The world is falling apart around him, but he’s quick-witted, smart, and determined.

It is a very short story. The end comes rather abruptly, with a feeling that the book has skipped a year of escapes and secrets, and without giving closure to what happens to Sam. It would have been nice to see what changes literacy made to his life, whether it actually benefited him, and what challenges he faced learning, but much of that was skipped.

Read stand alone, this is painfully average; painfully because the early world-building holds so much promise, but the ending is weak. There’s far too much material here for a short story, and the end feels patchy because of it.

However it is meant as an extra, and possible an introduction, to a longer book where Sam appears. As such it is an okay introduction to the world and a reasonable gauge of the author’s skill as a writer, but might be a very nice addition for those who have read the longer book, ‘Perfectible Animals’.

Rating: 2
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Discussion

rz3300 (23 August 2016)
Well I have not read the longer book, so I cannot say that it would benefit me any there. I guess it might be interesting, as you say, as a gauge to kind of see where the writer ranks among some of my others ones that I am reading right now. The title is intriguing though, so I am interested. Thanks for sharing.

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