The last kids on Earth and the Doomsday race by Max Brallier. Illus. by Douglas Holgate

cover image

Full disclosure: I was delaying reading this book as it is book seven of a series I had not seen or heard of before. Then my 12-year-old son spotted it in my review pile and excitedly told me about the fantastic cartoon Netflix series, before promptly stealing the book.

I stole it back from his bedside table and was immediately hooked. Yes, there are some things that, without any background story, don’t completely make sense to start with, but the characters are engaging and funny, and the story and relationships unfold neatly so that more information and context are revealed along the way.

13-year-old Jack Sullivan is living in a world populated with monsters and zombies. He and three friends (Quint, June and Dirk) are a monster-fighting gang, each with special skills and powers to aid in the cause. Jack can control zombies, so his zombie squad of Alfred, Lefty and Glurm are also along for the ride. The gang are having a short break after a victory at the end of the previous book, where they survived a skeleton army and escaped with an unusual slime-producing creature they’ve named Drooler. They are planning to find Thrull (the main monster antagonist) and save the world.

This book starts with a massive centipede-type monster hoovering up the gang during their break and depositing them into a mega shopping mall which is already inside of it. The mall is packed full of peaceful monsters who are ruled by The Grand Protector. It turns out Jack’s gang have met The Grand Protector before, and they are suspicious of his motives to protect and watch over all these monsters.

Jack’s gang work well, supporting each other and solving problems together. They are almost like siblings, teasing and joking one minute then ferociously defending one another the next. And the defence is absolutely necessary, with several long fight scenes described in detail - I can easily imagine the TV cartoon!

This is a highly illustrated novel where the detailed grayscale pictures are an integral part of the story. A very entertaining and humorous read.

Themes: Fantasy, Adventure, Friendship, Monsters.

Kylie Grant