The Last She by HJ Nelson is a post-apocalyptic dystopian novel set to be published December 7th. The cover and blurb had me really excited about this one and a lot of people are rating it highly on Goodreads but it fell a little flat for me.
As the only female to survive the devastating virus, Ara hasn’t seen another human in months―not since her father disappeared. The plague has swept away humanity, and Ara’s world is desolate, haunted by the ghosts of her former life. Her mother. Her sister.
Kaden and his crew live by a code: stay alert, stay alive. When they catch Ara stealing from them, they are furious―and confused. She is the first girl they have seen in three years. And while Kaden knows taking her captive is wrong, he tells himself he’s doing it to protect her.
But with Ara determined to follow through on her father’s mission―Go back to the beginning. End the plague―Kaden becomes mesmerized by Ara’s will and beauty. He knows he will do anything to help her, even if it tears their worlds apart.
This is a very good middle book of a series. The problem is that it is definitely the first book and appears to be a standalone. The story starts in the middle of the action and after the world has fallen apart. There are some flashbacks but mostly, it’s just the action in current day. This makes for a fun read but without seeing how things fell apart or getting to know Ara and Kaden, it’s really just action and I wasn’t invested at all.
Without this initial character development and world-building, trying to have this action-packed book of characters fighting for their lives just didn’t work. I did enjoy it but wasn’t motivated to finish it and even when things happened that should have made me sad/happy/mad, I had no reaction. I think I could have gotten over this if there was some bigger story being told, some message about the world or gender roles or something, but no, this was just a simple action story.
The end was also incredibly open-ended. Particularly the epilogue was just weird and definitely points at there being another book but nothing is listed anywhere. In addition, Ara’s quest from her dad is the main setup for the book and it just doesn’t happen, this entire book is her getting sidetracked. So I’m just confused on what the author intended, this doesn’t feel at all like a standalone.
Overall, if you just want to read some well-written action scenes and don’t mind some lackluster characters, this is a fun one.
*I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.