The Legend of the Last Library

The Legend of the Last Library
Author(s)
Age Range
8+
Release Date
August 06, 2024
ISBN
978-1639932382
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What if you lived in a world without books?

After a devastating Blight killed off all the trees, paper is worth more than just about anything. Juni's parents died when she was young, so now it's just her and Grandpa Edgar. When she's not in school, Juni and her friends Doler and Quaze turn to plifting—scavenging for any paper they can find. If Juni can find enough paper, she can pay for the health care Grandpa needs.

So when Juni discovers a book—the first one she's ever seen—hidden in a box in her grandpa's closet, she's both surprised and elated thinking of the money she could get for it. That all changes when she decides to read the book. Beyond opening her imagination, the book contains clues that point to what could be the last library on Earth.

The library's location has been hidden for more than a hundred years, but Juni and her friends are not the only ones looking for it. Ullred O'Donnell, head of R&D for Novexus, a megacorporation that replaced the government and now controls all information, is desperate to find the library as well. With an army of vicious robot dogs at his command, Ullred warns Juni to abandon her quest—or else.

Juni and her friends must find the library and share it with the world before Novexus claims it as their own. If reading one book could change Juni's life, what would access to thousands—or millions—of books do?

Editor review

1 review
Information is power
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
The most curious thing about this dystopian story is how paper has become so valuable. Juni and her best friend Doler frequently search old, crumbling buildings looking for paper, this is called plifting, and the opening chapter finds them in Harker’s Village, an off-limits area. The Blight wiped out all trees a hundred years ago but it’s still unclear why paper is so important. Pollution renders the environment inadequate for growing new trees but technology provides communication and entertainment for everyone. Readers may wonder if the paper itself has value to Novexus or if it’s more about what might be printed on it. Or, does O’Donnell have a devious plan for paper that the rest of Novexus knows nothing about?
The synopsis identifies Quaze as a friend but that’s an iffy description. She takes possession of the one piece of paper Juni finds and they almost come to blows over a plastic card. Quaze strikes a deal with O’Donnell that doesn’t include Juni or Doler so it’s clear Quaze only cares about herself. On the other hand, Doler stands over six feet tall and honors his loyalty to Juni. He’s also nervous and paranoid all the time so he adds levity and unpredictability to the story. Juni encounters another boy named Kobyn and he seems to know a lot about the plastic card, the locked box in her grandfather’s closet, and her parents’ activities before they died. He tells her about a rumored Last Library her parents were trying to find but this is the first time she’s ever heard about it. Kobyn makes comments that imply he’s working with others but readers are left to wonder what he might be hiding.
Juni and other citizens are able to enjoy books by downloading them using their Syncrons. However, no one is aware these books are abridged versions and Juni only discovers this fact when she gets her hands on a real, hard copy of one. Readers may connect with her reaction when Juni marvels at how the author’s descriptions allow her to become immersed in the story. She’s so engrossed that she’s surprised to realize several hours have passed. How many young readers have had similar experiences with their own books? Perhaps reading this book will have the same effect.
What didn’t work as well:
There are minor details in the story that may, or may not, bother young readers. What value are tiny scraps of paper? It’s not clear if Juni actually makes any money and how are they able to pay for her grandfather’s expensive medical care? The characters plan to do something with the library near the end but it’s unclear how they can do it and keep the thirty million printed items secret from Novexus. How could the Last Library have been constructed in the first place without anyone knowing? Again, there may be moments when something bothers young readers but it shouldn’t be enough to detract from enjoying the story.
The final verdict:
The author creates an original view of a future world where a major company has taken control of society. Lovers of reading will root for Juni as she tries to save the only remaining printed words left in the world. This book will appeal to readers who enjoy dystopian stories and adventure and I recommend you give it a shot.
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