Title: The Last Girl
Author: Joe Hart
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Goodreads Synopsis: A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women.
Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away—told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.
Captivity is the only life Zoey has ever known, and escaping her heavily armed captors is no easy task, but she’s determined to leave before she is subjected to the next round of tests…a program that no other woman has ever returned from. Even if she’s successful, Zoey has no idea what she’ll encounter in the strange new world beyond the facility’s walls. Winning her freedom will take brutality she never imagined she possessed, as well as all her strength and cunning—but Zoey is ready for war.
Is it just me, or is it a common dystopian trend of there being a shortage of females? In this instance, women are a commodity and are locked up in a prison-like environment until the magical age of 21, when they are “released into the wild.” Oh. OKAY. Yeah, totally believable. Lock me up in a prison, treat me like an animal, punish me in the most sadistic and cruel ways possible for minor infractions, and when I’m 21 I get to go back to my parents and live in a Utopian paradise? Dream come true! Somehow, being raised in government facility has incapacitated the surviving girls’ ability to smell bullshit.
Joe Hart finds a way to dump as much information about his world as he can in a short amount of time. No, not “A” way, ALL of the ways. We have “reading about it in the textbook” dumps, “teacher explains it to a student” dumps, “main character explains it to supporting character” dumps, “main character internal dialogue” dumps, “flashback” dumps… You name it, Hart used it to dump. And this dumping does not just take place in the beginning of the book, but throughout the book. Seriously. 75% of the way through, and we’re still dumping. Just sell an encyclopedia as a companion and save yourself some time.
What gets me about this is that he includes news quotes and interviews right in the beginning that chronicle what’s happening in his world. Why not just use that to set the stage and give some more background? Was that not satisfactory enough for your need to dump? And what is the significance of an owl named zipper? Is his purpose to dump?!
From all of this dumping, I have learned that women are slowly becoming extinct. The government, clearly ruled by Donald Trump (because this happens in 2017), rounds up all the women and forces them into government research facilities. The women are stripped of their identities, brainwashed about the world they live in, and lied to about an “Induction Ceremony” that takes place when they turn 21 years old. Somehow, this is a believable story.
What ACTUALLY happens when they turn 21 is that they are old enough to experiment on, and are forced to procreate in order for scientists to figure out why there aren’t any more female children being born. Naturally, both mother and baby are killed when said baby is male. Naturally. Because the sex of a child is not determined by the father.
Zoey, our protagonist, has lived in the facility since she was a baby and has no knowledge of the outside world except for what she has been told. She doesn’t have a last name, and she doesn’t know/remember her parents. She is one of six women left in the facility (hence the title “the Last Girl.”) Zoey lives in fear and submission among her fellow women, and she is constantly watched and belittled by the people who are supposedly “protecting” her.
Some questions I have about this:
- If women are slowly becoming extinct, what is the purpose of raising them like cattle to be experimented on?
- Why are we treating women like crap if they are slowly becoming extinct? What is the purpose of stripping them of their names, dignity, etc.? Wouldn’t they be more likely to cooperate if you treated them well?
- Why aren’t the men being experimented on? Again, the sperm determines the sex of the child. Why are we only exploring one half of the equation??
- Why even wait until the girls are 21? There is an explanation for this, but it’s lame.
- If women are slowly becoming extinct…. why are we killing them when they don’t produce female children? Women are capable of having more than one child! Please chill with your Henry XII complex.
I did enjoy reading this book once I became vaguely interested in the fate of the characters, which is why I gave it 3 stars. But the questions I have, the amount of dumping, and the overkill of the story line just overwhelmed me.