Braillier, Max. The Last Kids on Earth
October 13th 2015 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Copy from public library
Jack Sullivan's life as a foster child could be tough, but it was nothing compared to his life after the monster/zombie apocalypse. He's taken over a tree house and fortified it as best he can against the zombified humans as well as the violent monsters. He feels that he might as well make the best of a bad situation, and has a series of goals for himself. One is to find his best friend, Quint, so that the two can fight zombies together. Quint loves inventions and is very creative, so once Jack does find him, they make improvements to the tree house and also have a vehicle to use. Jack also wants to find and rescue his crush, June. There are monsters to fight, as well as the tame monster, Rover, who serves as back up transportation and turns out to be useful at fighting other monsters as well. The friends don't plan on adding Dirk, the school bully, to their group, but he's not a bad addition either. When Jack finally finds June hanging out in their school, she makes it quite clear that she does not need to be rescued, but eventually joins their band of monster fighters. I can't wait for August 2016 to find out how their adventures continue in The Last Kids on Earth and the Zombie Parade!
Since The Walking Dead is still a graphic novel and show that middle grade readers know about, this is an excellent, more age-appropriate alternative to that violent franchise. Yes, monsters are killed, and zombies are targets of tennis ball throwing, but the vast majority of it is done in the name of keeping the main (non zombie!) characters safe. I love how they work together to develop weapons, have a safe home base, and obtain food, even if their diet is largely junk food. It's the zombie apocalypse-- why eat broccoli?
Really, the book recommends itself: "He flings four razor Frisbees through the air, then unloads with the explosive football launcher." (page 216) This is the perfect blend of goofy and explosive, and it's so hard to find things like this for middle grade readers! Holgate's illustrations are perfect, and it's nice to see diversity of characters on the cover.
While very different from Kloepfer's Zombie Chasers, this is an essential book for fans of that series! Heavily illustrated, with lots of zombie gore and more of a dystopian feel, readers who were sad to see the zombie apocalypse concluded will be glad to see that there is another problem-- and this time, there are monsters!