After spending the last six years locked away in Spectrum Hall Academy for Challenging Children, twelve year old Kester Jaynes is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. A deadly virus known simply as the red-eye killed every animal and edible plant on the planet, most people live in tightly controlled cities run by Factoruim, the company who created synthetic food. Since the death of his mother, Kester hasn’t been able to speak but has discovered an ability to speak to all animals including insects. The tattered remnants of a few remaining wild animals taking refuge behind a Ring of Trees have arranged to break Kester out of his cell in hopes that he can find someone capable of creating a cure for red-eye, thus saving the Last Wild. Kester’s father was a gifted veterinarian and he knows that if anyone can create a cure, it will be his Dad but getting across the dangerous wasteland and getting into the city will not be easy. Even if Kester can find his estranged father and a cure developed, there are sinister forces at work that will stop at nothing to destroy the Last Wild.
This charming young adult story is a cautionary tale about the dangers of pollution as well as destroying the wilderness and animals that so enrich life. The message doesn’t overwhelm the story as Kester and other characters are so interesting and well developed. The Stag is a noble beast indeed, the cockroach known as the General is great fun as is the constantly addled white pigeon and Polly, a young girl found in the Quarantined zone proves very resourceful. The overall feel of this tale tends to be a bit dark as it portraits a ruined planet and some very evil villains. Parents might want to read the book first if their children are very young or sensitive and then discus the story with them but this doesn’t take away from a delightful adventure with more to come.
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