Sarya is the galaxy’s worst nightmare: a Human.
But most days, she doesn’t feel like the most terrifying creature in the galaxy. No, most days, she’s got other things on her mind. Like hiding her identity among the hundreds of alien species roaming the corridors of Watertower Station. Or making sure her adoptive mother doesn’t casually eviscerate one of their neighbors. Again.
And most days, she can almost accept that she’ll never know the truth about why humanity was deemed too dangerous to exist, or whether she really is – impossibly – the lone survivors of a species destroyed a millennium ago. That is, until an encounter with a bounty hunter leaves her life and her perspective shattered.
Thrown into the universe at the helm of a stolen ship, Sarya begins to uncover an impossible truth. Humanity’s death and her own existence might simply be two moves in a demented cosmic game, one that might offer the thing she wants most in the universe – a second chance for herself, and one for humanity.
The Last Human by Zack Jordan is a unique book. For the very reasons this story was a breath of fresh air for someone who’s read every book in existence (plus or minus a few million), some reviewers were bashing it on Goodreads.
And you know what? I get where they’re coming from, I really do. This book was strange.
The novel started off in a normal fashion. We are introduced to Sarya, the galaxy’s only known human, who must pass herself off as a simple, less intelligent alien species to survive. She lives on a water mining station with her adoptive mother, a terrifying, mass murdering giant sentient spider who lives for the pleasure of the hunt and the kill.
In other words, a typical coming of age story.
However, about halfway through, the book…changes.
As it turns out, with the existence of millions of sentient species in the galaxy comes millions of varying levels of intelligence. What this means is, as a typical member of an average species, you could believe that it was luck that brought you a good trade deal, or a beautiful spouse of indiscriminate gender.
It was not.
Because guess what? To a being twenty times less intelligent than you, your machinations and schemes would seem like the hand of fate itself.
As the story progresses, young Sarya discovers this fact as she’s pulled into the schemes of some of the most intelligent (known) beings in the universe.
This story does not follow the typical model of a YA or New Adult book. It is not the well polished arc with perfectly placed plot points that one would expect in a popular novel.
It is tempting to look at this fantastical space opera delving into the very nature of free will written by what is obviously a giant nerd with just the right amount of crazy and get annoyed that it doesn’t fit into the typical paths of a normal novel.
It spends pages and pages exploring esoteric concepts. The plot is not linear AT ALL. The beginning and the end of The Last Human do not only seem like different books, they seem like different genres.
And yet, as soon as I finished, I wished I could go back and read the thing all over again. This book made me think. It was unexpected. After finishing the last page, I felt richer for the experience.
If you devour novels and are looking for something more than yet another notch on your bookshelf, give The Last Human a try. I can’t guarantee it will be your cup of tea, but if it is, you will never forget it.
Bonus: The author has collaborated with an artist to create a webcomic prequel to the book, which is where the pictures in this review came from. You can browse them here.