The Last Wild

Piers Torday. Viking, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-670-01554-2
In this offbeat semi-apocalyptic fantasy, debut novelist Torday introduces 12-year-old Kester Jaynes, a prisoner at Spectrum Hall Academy for Challenging Children. Kester’s world was turned upside down by the death of his mother six years earlier (he hasn’t spoken since). The larger world is in tumult, too, wrecked by global warming and “the red-eye,” which killed off most animal life and threatens humans with extinction. One day, Kester is stunned to discover he can communicate with cockroaches, pigeons, and other “varmints,” who ask him for help: “*Come with us now, Kester Jaynes. Or rot here forever. The choice is yours.*” With the aid of the varmints, Kester escapes from Spectrum Hall and learns that he is the chosen savior of “the last wild,” the few remaining animals on Earth. A sort of dystopian Winnie-the-Pooh, Torday’s story is alternately somber, thrilling, and silly, filled with eccentric human and animal characters with distinctive voices. That includes Kester—although his fellow humans see him as silent, his courage, actions, and growth speak volumes. Ages 8–12. Agent: Clare Conville, Conville & Walsh. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/16/2013
Release date: 03/18/2014
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Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-670-01555-9
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Hardcover - 340 pages - 978-1-78206-485-5
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