In the otherworldly land of Nedarra, packs of dairnes, creatures similar to both dogs and humans, used to roam the forests and the hills. But it has been a long time since they were so plentiful. Many creatures have disappeared over the years, and the remaining dairnes can’t help but wonder: what if they are next?
Young dairne Byx has always been small, always been the last for everything. Everyone thinks that, if danger strikes, she would be the first to die. But instead, she outlives the others of her pack when hunters attack. Searching for the truth of old legends about others of her kind, she strikes out on her own.
Yet she won’t be on her own for long. Byx is joined by an assortment of companions; a wobbyk named Tobble who is loyal to his word; Khara, a girl disguised as a boy to succeed in life; and a felivet who, though not at first, Byx slowly grows to trust. Together, they travel over land and sea, seek aid with those not altogether trustworthy, and sometimes fight to continue their journey. Byx learns that perhaps the death of her family wasn’t the only of its kind—and perhaps, it was the last.
The Last was a delicious, exciting read. All of the characters were appealing and different, each species with its own customs and ways of living. Everyone was distinct and often intriguing. Part of what made it interesting was because it was from the point of view of a non-human main character. Byx’s take on the world was different and often amusing. It was also interesting, however, because in many fantasy books, a certain species or group in a certain species are the villains. In The Last, however, it was the king and his followers—humans—who were the ones who Byx learned were the enemies. Although there were also good human characters, this was one of the reasons that this book stood out to me as particularly excellent. Katherine Applegate didn’t dismiss a certain species as evil or villainous—instead, in doing this, she showed that there were good and bad people in every group. I would highly recommend The Last to readers ages ten and up.