The Book Reviews – Website

August 30, 2009

The Last Book in the Universe

The Last Book of the Universe

Author: Rodman Philbrick

Page Length: 221

Reading Level:  6

Genre: Science Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: This book is about Spaz (a young boy), Ryter (an old man), and the adventures they both get into trying to save Spaz’s sister from a very bad illness.  However, there are many problems they encounter on their trek, and the underlying theme is that of the scarcity of books during this time period.  There is only one book left, and it is the journal which the older man has been keeping.   As the book begins there is devastation all around. A huge earthquake, the Big Shake, has destroyed most of civilization.  Even though there is a small part of civilization left there is one group of people, the proovs, who have retreated to Eden.  The proovs have learned how to improve themselves genetically, and they have sealed their environment off from the sprawling ruins inhabited by the remaining normal people.  

However, normals like Spaz and Ryter live in the Urb which is plagued by genetic defects, a toxic environment, and illnesses.  Spaz was abandoned by his family, because of spasms caused from epilepsy.   His nickname is coined from the spasms he experiences and he feels unloved and unwanted.   Spaz also knows that he is at the mercy of the latch-bosses and their gangs in the Urb, and he knows that his survival depends on Billy Bizmo and the Bully Bangers.   So when they send him to rob an old man, Spaz obeys.   When confronted with a robbery, Ryter, the old man, willingly surrenders his few belongings, except for the pages of his book. Spaz is totally shocked for he has never seen anyone get robbed so easily.  Later on, one of the normal runners gets a message to Spaz saying his sister, Bean, is in dire need and wants to see Spaz for old time’s sake.   So, when the boy sets out to find his dying foster sister, Ryter insists on accompanying him.   Along the way, they are joined by Lanaya, a proov, and Little Face, an orphan. Finding Bean is hard enough; helping Lanaya appears to be impossible, until she takes the group back to Eden and confronts the rulers with the truth about the outside world. This is science fiction, not a fairy tale, and everyone does not live happily ever after.

REVIEW: I think that this book was very good, and there was enough science in the sci-fi aspect of it to have a sequel written.


6.9 draw upon experience and to use word meanings

6.10 know main idea and details

6.11 connect and compare the various ideas

6.12 analyze character

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: pages 214-217 – The death of Ryter was brutal.

RELATED BOOKS: Other books written by Rodman Philbrick – Freak the Mighty, Fire Pony, The Young Man and the Sea, related books – Universe by Nicolas Cheetham, The Kingfisher Book by David Lambert, The Last Universe by William Sleator


REVIEWED BY: Linda Schwegler


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