The last girl by Michael Adams
Allen & Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743316368.
(Age: 15 +) Highly recommended. Most YA dystopian novels (like The Hunger Games and the Divergent trilogy) focus on the social change which arises when rigid political systems are established after some cataclysmic event has altered the world. By contrast, Michael Adams' gripping novel focuses on the cataclysmic moment itself.
At first Adam's world seems all too familiar: a world obsessed with connectivity, via hardware (iPads, smart phones and the like) and social media networking sites. When teenager, Danby Armstrong, decides to take a week's break from all her gadgetry and networking, her friends are puzzled. Yet perhaps this is why, when 'the snap' happens, Danby appears to be immune. Or perhaps it is the effect of the drugs she is on, the result of an 'episode' just a few days earlier when Danby's consciousness seemed to 'snap' so that she could hear other people's thoughts.
Only days later, Danby suddenly witnesses a nationwide 'snap': Danby's dad can now hear her step-mum's betraying thoughts about her affair, her neighbours can tune in to her dad's violent response. It seems that in every house across Sydney folk can hear bad thoughts in other people's heads, triggering scenes of vengeance and chaos.
With the world apparently in meltdown, Danby's mission is simply to rescue her young step-brother and get them both to her mum in the Blue Mountains. But worse is yet to come, for another snap-like event results in almost every living soul losing consciousness, including her brother. Can these people be revived? This is when the novel truly takes an intriguing turn by posing two possible solutions to this weird scenario. On the one hand, we have Danby and Nathan, a young med student, trying to help others help themselves. On the other hand, we have Jack, who is far more selective in whom he thinks should be revived. If both approaches are imperfect, which way should Danby turn?
This is a dark, brutal and compelling novel with a credible and likeable heroine. The violence would suggest an older audience of readers who will have plenty to ponder about the true meaning of connectivity, leadership and humanity.