All you really have to do to hook me into reading a book is mention science fiction, spaceships, and Latina pilots. So you know I was so ready to jump into The Last 8 and I was able to read this one so early! (I’m writing this in December!)
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this free book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: Suicidal thoughts, suicide
Clover was like looking at a little piece of myself in the mirror. Clover is an aromantic Latina pilot, but she’s a survivor. Forced to survive on her own for six months traveling around the US in the devastated wasteland, Clover arrives in Area 51 used to surviving on her own. Her hope is what has allowed her to survive every day, the loneliness, the hopelessness, the bleak survival. And now that Clover has arrived, she isn’t sure that The Last Teenagers on Earth is where she wants to be.
But as the book progresses, we see how Clover stirs the pot. How their lives aren’t really living, hiding out under the ground can only last for so long. And Clover is far from happy giving up hope on their planet. But nothing is at it seems. The long awaited company is hiding secrets more dangerous and treacherous than she can even imagine.
There’s so little I can actually reveal in this review without giving away some of the most jaw dropping twists. So I’ll just say, The Last 8 is like post apocalyptic, meets aliens, meets conspiracies. There are reveals and mystery in every page of The Last 8. But for me the dominoes didn’t start falling until about a half to two thirds through the book, but when they started falling, it was a chain reaction. Up until this point, the dynamics of the group, and getting to know the teens, propels you through the book. But when the pieces start clicking together, the book turns into this adventure and ends with a thrilling finish.
The Last 8 revolves around these last eight teens on Earth. Clover is angry, unused to gentle words, and hardened by being on her own for six months. So when she arrives at Area 51, she not only has to get to know the other remaining seven teens, but also remember these group dynamics. Clover talks about how growing up in the small town in Montana as the only Mexican American kid meant that she never was able to merge with her class mates. And this thread only continues as it is exasperated by her isolation. She reflects on never really being able to find a place she can just be who she is – not because she’s the only Latina.
Clover is aromantic and I kind of yelled out loud when I found this out. In the most happy of happy yells. I am so happy to see a queer woman of color on the forefront of this SF book. But more than that, I was able to relate to Clover’s need for hope. And her words that cut through illusions. If I was a character in this book, I think I would probably be Clover – if I could fly a plane. Overall, I found this survivor mentality really interesting to see how everyone else deals with their hope, or lack of, as well as the losses they experience.
(The remaining teens are also a pretty diverse set with black, brown, Native American, and queer teens).
Throughout The Last 8 there are so many fantastic quotes that are either so atmospheric, bleak, and hopeful. There are so many more themes I want to talk about, but part of what really endeared The Last 8 to me was the last third. Where they have to decide if the want to take a stand and what their resistance will look like. But some more themes about what it means for humanity as the last survivors. The Last 8 is a story driven by hope. The need to not only survive, but to live another day.