The Last Book in the Universe…or Farenheit 451 from a younger perspective.

So, I swear I did not do this on purpose, but I read The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick right after I read Farenheit 451.  It’s like Farenheit 451‘s mini-me!

The_Last_Book_in_the_Universe_-_Book_CoverAccording to Goodreads:

This fast-paced action novel is set in a future where the world has been almost destroyed. Like the award-winning novel Freak the Mighty, this is Philbrick at his very best.
It’s the story of an epileptic teenager nicknamed Spaz, who begins the heroic fight to bring human intelligence back to the planet. In a world where most people are plugged into brain-drain entertainment systems, Spaz is the rare human being who can see life as it really is. When he meets an old man called Ryter, he begins to learn about Earth and its past. With Ryter as his companion, Spaz sets off an unlikely quest to save his dying sister — and in the process, perhaps the world.

Ok, so it isn’t clear in the description but if you read in between the lines of being plugged into the ‘brain-drain entertainment systems’ (Or 3 screen families in Farenheit, or just TV to you and me) you understand that no one reads and books don’t really exist in their world.  Written from the perspective of Spaz, he meets a older, wiser gentleman called Ryter who is *ahem* writing ‘the last book.’  Ok, so the names aren’t the greatest.  However, it is written from a younger perspective and also intended for a younger audience who might find the puns clever.  However, let me sidetrack for a moment here and advocate for YA books- some of my favorite books are YA.  I will admit that I was a little skeptical when I first got this book, though  I was unsure if it was going to be as good as my friends made it out be- yes *shocked face* I judged a book by the cover.  However, this, like many, many other books have proven that the cover is not everything.  There are some really insightful, deep and thoughtful topics that can be addressed to quench an intellectual thirst but done from a different perspective, sometimes.  It is refreshing, cleaner, and I do appreciate that as a reader you can address these things without using graphic, vulgar or profane words.  Just my two cents.  Hop on over to Bookbound and read Who should read YA? for a more clever advocate on the topic.

Moving along… so Spaz goes on a quest to save his dying sister and has to face numerous challenges and threats along the way.  However, he makes some friends and learns some lessons, too.  He learns how being different has allowed him to be the best person for the job and he learns to accept himself and his differences.  He opens up and learns how to stand up for himself, those he cares about, and for what is right.  He is young, and he does make mistakes and has flaws but as the reader, you come to love Spaz, too for his heart and his spirit.  You’ll be rooting for him, too.  The moral of the story is very much like Farenheit 451 in honoring how stories were originally told- through storytellers and storytelling.  As long as there is someone to tell the story, ‘books’ will never really die.

Has anyone else read this one?  Or do you have any other good Adult/YA pairings?

3.5 out of 5 stars

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Farenheit 451 – Reading one of the Classics for the first time

So, another one of the books that I was able to devour during my recent travels includes Farenheit 451.  Yes, it is a classic, but one I had not read yet.  I borrowed this one from a friend who read it for a class and I thought – I should have already read this by now.  Does anyone else have a list of classics that they have not read yet but feel like they should have by now? Or is it just me?  Perhaps that will be a post for another day.  Moving along, I jumped right into this book without actually having any idea what it was about.  I didn’t even read the synopsis on the back. Which is weird for me.  I usually fully appreciate the whole cover, flip through the pages, smell them, you know – the whole nine yards before beginning to read a book.   For some books it might be recommended to go in blind, so to speak. Probably not so for this one, so I’ll share with you what Goodreads has to say about the book:

fahrenheit-451

The terrifyingly prophetic novel of a post-literate future.
Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.
The classic dystopian novel of a post-literate future, Fahrenheit 451 stands alongside Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity.
Bradbury’s powerful and poetic prose combines with uncanny insight into the potential of technology to create a novel which, decades on from first publication, still has the power to dazzle and shock

So, entering this book without knowing what it was actually about was a little confusing at first.  It was just such a bizarre concept to me that there would ever actually be a world where no one read books.  Not even magazines.  I’ve heard of banned books, but ban all the books?  How dare they? How can people learn anything? How can they even read road signs on the road? Once I got past the initial shock and got off of my soap-box, defending my books I understood the point.  And it’s a good one, and rings true to society as we know it.  You know, the one where all of the kids develop carpal tunnel in their thumbs by the age 20.  We’re all a little bit guilty, myself included; I’m not pointing any fingers.  It is nice to hold a button on my phone and simply speak: “Google, what is Cassiopeia?” or “Google, take me home” and be directed home and toward the right answers.  I do it all the time.  Regardless, it is true – we are moving really quickly and technology is developing and growing faster than ever.  Yes, please go right ahead and appreciate the modern technology (I, for one will not stop) but do not lose where it all came from.  And, that’s exactly what this book does: it pays homage to the roots of it all and shows appreciation for the authors, readers, and storytellers from generation to generation.

So, it was interesting to read a perspective of the future written from the past (originally written in 1953).  Guy Montag is a fireman whose job is to set fires, not put them out.  He is so unhappy in his marriage you would almost think that he and his wife were ‘assigned’ to marry each other.  They don’t even remember how they met, so the reader starts to wonder… The neighbor, Clarisse is my favorite.  She reminds me of the part in the movie Pleasantville when people start to see in color.  Clarisse was the one who started to add color to Guy’s world and before he realized it, he could not see in black and white anymore.  The rest of the book follows what happens when someone who sees in color fights against the world who sees in black and white.   I’m very glad that I took the time to (finally) read this book and if you have not read it yet, either you should add it to your list and it’s not even 200 pages so there’s no excuse not to, really.

Have you read it?  What do you think?

4.5 out of 5 stars.