AUTHOR: ZACK JORDAN | PUBLISHER: HODDER & STOUGHTON | FORMAT: HARDCOVER | RELEASE DATE: MARCH 24TH
Sarya the Daughter is the last human in the cosmos, the last of a species which acts as a universal boogieman. It makes sense then, that her adoptive mother would be hell-bent on keeping Sarya’s identity a secret from the thousands of alien species with whom they cohabitate. How did she end up here? Why are the humans so despised? How did she survive? These are questions without answers for Zack Jordan’s protagonist.
A series of catastrophic events result in Sarya going on the run and finding herself aboard a dead bounty hunter’s ship with an android, a rebellious spacesuit, an impossibly intelligent, mute fluffball, and a six-legged death machine. Accompanied by this rag-tag crew, she travels the galaxy on a quest to find someone (or something?) with the answers to her questions.
As this strange, massive space-opera unfolds – think The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets Luc Besson’s Lucy – The Last Human takes readers across the universe, across centuries of history, encountering alien species of every shape and size, and letting us glimpse at a world order rather different from our own. The unifying force to these disparate elements is the Network, an omnipresent, incomprehensible intellect that controls the cosmos – it allows for interspecies communication, acts as a peacekeeping force, regulates technology, provides faster-than-light travel and information transfer.
Would you trust an authority you cannot understand, whose motives you could never comprehend? What if it were to offer you that same power? The Last Human explores metaphysical ideas of free will, of perspective, of identity, intelligence, morality and order; ideas of such enormity that they may leave readers with their head spinning. The scale of the novel’s philosophical themes reaches ambitious heights in its third act, presenting Sarya with impossible choices and unbearable consequences as it speeds towards a thoroughly unsatisfying end – denying the reader any closure proves the boldest and finest decision made by Jordan.
The novel’s best quality, its ambition, also works to its detriment. Some themes, such as the book’s exploration of intelligence and social hierarchies, though fascinating stay only superficially explored. For the same reason, the story at times loses its anchor (Sarya’s pain, desires and motives) as it gets lost in its own ideas.
The Last Human is nonetheless a fascinating and rewarding read, rich in world-building, magnitude and philosophies.