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The Last Book in the Universe
by Rodman Philbrick
In a land dominated by vicious gangs and mindprobe entertainment, Spaz is alone. His foster sister is the only good thing in his life and she is dying. Determined to save her, Spaz bravely sets out into dangerous and forbidden territory, accompanied only by an old man, with his philosophies and memories of what the world once was.
“A fine book, highly recommended.”
School Library Journal
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If you’re reading this, it must be a thousand years from now. Because nobody around here reads any more. Why bother, when you can just probe it? Put all the images and excitement right inside your brain and let it rip. There are all kinds of mindprobes – trendies, shooters, sexbos, whatever you want to experience. Shooters are violent, and trendies are about living in Eden, and sexbos, well you can guess what sexbos are about. They say probing is better than anything. I wouldn’t know because I’ve got this serious medical condition that means I’m allergic to electrode needles. Stick oneof those in my brain and it’ll kick off a really bad seizure and then – total mind melt, lights out, that’s all, folks.
They call me Spaz, which is kind of a mope name, but I don’t mind, not any more. I’m talking into an old voicewriter program that prints out my words because I was there when the Bully Bangers went to wheel the Ryter for his sins, and I saw what they saw, and I heard what they heard, and it kind of turned my brain around.
The Bangers have the latch on my part of the Urb, which means they control everybody and everything between Eastie and the Pipe. A million people, maybe more. Nobody really knows how many, because nobody can count that high. Why bother? All you gotta know is, if you live here you’re either down with the Bangers or you might as well be dead. There’s no escape because every part of the Urb is latched by one gang or another. The only escape is Eden, and you can’t get in there unless you’re a proov, and if you’re genetically improved you’d never leave in the first place, so forget about Eden.
I used to belong to a family unit, with a foster mom and dad and my little sister, Bean, but that’s over, and I don’t want to talk about what happened, or how unfair it was. Not yet. The less said about that the better, because if there’s one thing I learned from Ryter it’s that you can’t always be looking backward or something will hit you from the front.
Ryter was this gummy that changed my life, and if you’re reading this, maybe he changed the world, too. Gummies are what we call old people, and the Ryter was so ancient, the hair on his chin beard was as white as bone, and most of his teeth were gone. Even his skin was old and worn out and so thin, it looked like if you held him up to the light you’d see right through him.
The way I got to know Ryter is this: the Bangers sent me to bust him down. As far as I was concerned at the time, he was just another gummy scheduled for cancellation, so why not rip him off?
And that’s exactly what I did.
Rodman Philbrick has been writing since the age of sixteen. He had published more than a dozen novels for adults before the publication of his first book for younger readers, Freak the Mighty. Since then, he has won numerous awards and honours, including the prestigious California Young Reader Medal, the Arizona Young Readers' Award and the New York State "Charlotte" Award. "It was my privilege to know an extraordinary young man who lived with a rare spinal condition that meant he would never be much more than three feet tall," Philbrick says. "Despite severe medical problems and an uncertain future, my brilliant young friend faced life with unconquerable spirits. His remarkable personality inspired me to write an entirely fictional story, called Freak the Mighty."
Freak the Mighty has been translated into many languages and was made into the feature film, The Mighty, starring Sharon Stone, with theme music by Sting.
Rod and his wife divide their time between Maine and the Florida Keys, USA.
"I believe that we have the ability to change our lives using our imaginations. Imagination is a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets."
Visit www.rodmanphilbrick.com to find out more.
Shortlisted - Hillingdon Secondary School Book of the Year 2010
The Last Book in the Universe is one of the six shortlisted titles for the Hillingdon Secondary School Book of the Year 2010. The shortlist is selected by local librarians. Reading groups in 20 local secondary schools will read the shortlisted titles and select the winner who will then be announced at an event on 18th March 2010.
Philbrick has created some memorable characters in this fast-paced adventure, which will leave readers musing over humanity's future.
Vivid storytelling makes this book utterly absorbing. Set in the future following a cataclysmic event which had devastated the world, readers are prompted to think and consider what is important; not of their day-to-day problems but of the wider meaning of life, of their place in the world and what is happening to our planet Earth...Each character adds a further layer involvement and draws the reader further into the tale. Challenging, but well worth the effort.
Pat Tate, Carousel
Danger, despair and drama permeate this adventure story which presents its hero with a major moral dilemma.
Book Trust Children's Books
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