The Last Wild

“How could I be so wrong? The stag was right—we can’t trust any other humans. How can you ever trust someone who wants to eat you?”

Set in a future where animals are facing total extinction, The Last Wild follows the story of mute, 12-year-old Kester Jaynes. Kester has been locked away in Spectrum Hall, a home for troubled kids, for six years. In his mind, Kester often practices holding conversations with the various vermin that have survived the Redeye, a plague that has wiped out most of the animal kingdom. One night, he discovers that the animals have been able to hear his every thought. With the help of an army of cockroaches and a flock of pigeons, Kester escapes Spectrum Hall and is whisked away to a place called the Ring of Trees, where he meets many other creatures. The animals beg Kester to help them, as they believe he is the only one who can save them from the Redeye. So Kester embarks on a journey to find the cure, with his new animal friends helping him along the way.

The Last Wild can help young readers recognize and discuss the complex issue of humanity’s involvement in climate change. In the novel, a large corporation called Facto is responsible for poisoning all animals and crops in an effort to make humans dependent on their formula for food. Facto essentially controls the government as well and forces it to advertise lies about the Redeye disease. Teachers can use this story to discuss the role of corporations in our own world’s climate disaster and how they also influence governments in order to get away with breaking environmental regulation standards. Teachers can help students recognize that when consumers give money to such corporations, they are ultimately contributing to or endorsing the corporation’s environmental abuse.

Additionally, the novel discusses the various ways living things depend on each other and the complexity of these relationships (see interrelatedness). The book shows that without biodiversity, the world would face dire consequences. Readers are called to consider the various ways in which plants and animals provide for us. For example, the importance of plants is emphasized through the tidbits of information regarding both their nutritional value and their healing properties. On the other side, the book also shows what humans can do for nature. Kester and his human friend Polly both share a strong desire to learn how they can help not only the animals but the world in general, which sets a great example for young readers.

©2024 ClimateLit (Anna Reese)


Publisher: Penguin Books, 2015

Pages: 352

ISBN: 9780147509659

Audience: Questers (8-13)

Format: Novels

Topics: Biodiversity, Biodiversity Loss, Climate Change, Conservation, Corporatism, Ecocentrism, Ecocide, Extinction, Human Impact, Interconnectedness, Wildlife, Youth Climate Activism