Review: The Last Orphans

The Last Orphans

I really wanted to like The Last Orphans, based on both its plot synopsis and title, but, unfortunately, I didn’t. The setup is intriguing-after all the adults around are seemingly killed in incredibly gruesome ways, Shane, a high school junior, ends up in charge of a group of ragtag kids which includes Kelly, his longtime crush. Together, they must find out what’s going on and figure out how to survive.

Unfortunately, the execution lacked a lot. While the imagery and descriptions were pretty fantastic-seriously, the scene with the bees almost gave me hives-that was the only thing that worked for me.

The story actually takes place over only a couple of days, starting just before the adults start dying. Shane, the protagonist, is serviceable enough, but you don’t really get too attached to him because, beyond a few little hints of depth, his character’s pretty shallow. The other characters in the story are just as flat, to the point where I got bored during a couple of death scenes which were meant to be touching. Rather than being a caretaker of the kids, as the plot seemed to suggest, Shane is just a sort of temporary leader who doesn’t really seem to connect with any of them besides his small circle of friends.

There’s not actually a whole lot of plot in the novel: mostly, it consists of several action scenes tied together with scenes where the characters are driving around. The action, again, has some incredibly explicit video-game style violence, but none of it builds to a satisfying climax. Furthermore, the reason behind the apocalypse is, frankly, silly and implausible, as is the way the kids manage to fix things (and the ease with which they do it).

Special mention must be made of the stereotypical depiction of the inner-city thugs (yes, we all know what that’s code for), which didn’t fail to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Overall, I was genuinely excited to read this book when I started it, but my excitement quickly turned to disappointment. It’s dull, poorly-plotted, and populated with static characters, and I will not be picking up its sequel.

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