A high-stakes survival story about eight teenagers who outlive an alien attack—perfect for fans of The 5th Wave
Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.
When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.
Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Imagine War of the Worlds meets a psychological examination on the survivors of the alien invasion. Imagine the survivors are all teens. This is the premise Laura Pohl brings us with The Last 8. A young Mexican-American teen named Clover Martínez is coming back from her school’s science fair when an alien invasion commences. No one knows what they are or why they’re on Earth, until the aliens start attacking the population. Slowly, but surely, Clover’s friends and family all die, leaving her to her own devices.
Dealing with survivor’s guilt, trauma, and suicidal ideation, Clover travels around the US in an attempt to find any more human survivors. With only a dog by her side, she accidentally comes across a radio transmission from some survivors who are hiding in what was Area 51. She hastily makes her way there, literally crashing her car into the base. As Clover starts recuperating, she realizes all the survivors in the base, including her, are teens: 8 in total. She also begins to realize that none of the kids know how devastating the invasion was, with their fearless leader, Violet, doing everything in her power to prevent Clover from exposing this. The teens are surviving, but not fighting back, which makes Clover incredibly frustrated and leads her to becoming more reckless in order to find out how to defeat the aliens.
There are secrets, deaths, and plot twists that perhaps you won’t see coming, all while still finding pockets of light in a text that could be heavy for some. Mental health is a major theme of the book, especially in terms of trauma and suicidal tendencies. Pohl doesn’t shy away from the realities of the topic, especially how depression tends to be depicted as an individual thing that people suffer from but it affects everyone around you as well. That’s also another major theme in the book: how the decision of one person can affect a collective.
And the collective is stronger together than they are individually, it’s made clear time and time again. Though all of them have individual strengths (for example, Clover is a great pilot/engineer while Avani is great at biology), whenever they try to go their separate ways they seem to be drawn to each other, to seeking each other’s help.
However, because they go they act like such a collective most times, it was kind of hard to discern each character’s personalities. At times they could be so one-dimensional, but it wasn’t until they got one-on-one face time with Clover that we can actually see their differences (I will never forgive Laura for making me read about r*ylo in a published book). Even still, those one-on-ones were my favorite moments of the book: like when Rayen and Clover do the interrogation, or any time Clover and Violet confront each other. The character death in the book is, while unnecessary, necessary in that… the character was just boring. For me, at least.
At some point the book turns from dystopian sci-fi to space opera, which is where the author’s Star Wars influence may have come into play. I have no idea what the second book in the duology will be about, seeing as the ending of the book tied up the narrative quite neatly, even while leaving a lot in the air in terms of the logistics of their escape (I’m being purposefully vague here, I don’t wanna give too much away).
Still, The Last 8 is an enjoyable ride full of twists that leave you with whiplash, while reiterating that though teens are susceptible to live with trauma, they are able to have fun. They go on joyrides and have parties and listen to Hamilton and play videogames. It’s a book that’s chockful of the recklessness and defiance that comes with being a teenager, all brought to the forefront in a world that’s been overrun by aliens. All of this is brought with a diverse cast (I’ll list them at the end), a well-paced storyline that kept me guessing, and harsh realness that has me interested in the next installment of the series.
TWs: PTSD, panic attacks, suicidal ideation, death, violence, self-harm (MC is reckless and crashes cars and planes without second thoughts), suicide (two are attempted on the page), depression, guns (lots of them), torture, gore
Rep: Clover: Mexican-American, STEM, bisexual, aromantic, PTSD & depression; Avani: South Asian descent, STEM, sapphic; Brooklyn: Asian (? not specified), sapphic, linguist; Flint: Black, STEM, Gay (? implied but not made clear on the page); Rayen: White Mountain Apache, Gay (not specified); Andy: STEM girl; Violet: depression, gay (? implied but not made clear on the page).
An eARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
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