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“Life’s funny like that. The times when you want to freak out the most—those are the times when you can’t freak out at all,” Jack. —The Last Kids on Earth and the Cosmic Beyond
The Last Kids on Earth and the Cosmic Beyond
The Last Kids on Earth #4
by Max Brallier
AR Test, Good for Reluctant Readers
Jack and his friends are looking forward to their first Christmas celebration since the monster apocalypse. Jack wants to show the monsters the joy of sledding, snowball battles, and gift giving. But their winter plans are put on hold when an evil human villainess begins hunting them.
The villainess hopes to create a portal to bring Ghazt, the general of the undead, to Earth. But first she needs Jack’s monster-slaying tool, the Louisville Slicer. When his prized weapon is stolen, will Jack and his friends be able to get it back? Will they be able to stop the villainess’s evil plan?
The Last Kids on Earth and the Cosmic Beyond takes a step back from monster fighting and focuses more on the kids’ winter activities. In order to show the monsters that snow is fun, the kids do a series of snow activities including ice fishing and snowball fights. But the activities make the “monsters extra freaked out. They’ve become afraid of snow in both flake form and ball form.” Readers will laugh as Jack and his friends try to show the monsters their traditions. Through these humorous scenes, readers will learn the importance of understanding different cultures. The story shows that some people may find different traditions strange because they have never heard of them.
Like the previous books, the story will keep readers entertained with its fast pace, funny scenes, and epic battles. The easy-to-read text contains dialogue bubbles, alliteration, and onomatopoeias that make reading the story a joy. The black and white illustrations that appear on almost every page bring the kids’ world to life as well as add humor.
At first, The Last Kids on Earth and the Cosmic Beyond may look like just another graphic novel. But the characters are surprisingly well developed and readers will come away with a valuable lesson about the importance of community. When Jack and the kids seek out a Warg, Jack realizes that “maybe she was watching because she felt that feeling, that’s the worst of all feelings. That feeling of being, like, left out?”
This story can be understood without reading the previous books in the series, but for maximum enjoyment readers should read the books in order. Readers will enjoy The Last Kids on Earth and the Cosmic Beyond. The story keeps the same humorous, non-frightening format as the previous books.
- Jack has a crush on June. At one point, June “looks deep into my (Jack’s) eyes. I’m wondering if this might be sort of a romantic moment or something. . .” It’s not.
- When Dirk is bitten by a zombie, he is “stretched out on the poker table. . . I expected it to be like a scene from one of those TB shows with doctors running around emergency rooms. You know the ones, where they spend like half their time saving lives and the other half making out in the hospital closets?”
- Meathook grabs Jack, and his “gray-purple tongue snaps and smacks me across the face. I half expect it to follow that with a French kiss of death.” Meathook grabs Jack’s weapon and then lets him go.
- While catapulting in a sled, the kids jump out of the sled before they slam into a monster. “There’s a gulp—and the great beast’s belly rumbles. The sled has been swallowed.”
- An “above ground-like octopus” attacks Jack. Before the monster can hurt him, “a rolling library cart slams into the monster. There’s a wet SPLAT and the monster is suddenly airborne, sailing across the library.”
- A zombie tries to bite Jack, but June stops the zombie by putting her gum in its mouth.
- An evil human villainess captures the kids. In order to escape, Jack throws “a handful of dry, shredded gum into her face.”
- Meathook tries to smash the kids, but they use a string of lights to try to trip him. Jack “sees the string of lights snapping in the air and then—THWACK!—the harpoon slams into Meathook’s scaly hide.” The trick does not work, but “the string of lights circle around me (Jack). My butt’s jerked from the seat.” During this battle, a zombie bites Dirk. Evie grabs Jack, but then, “a pair of zombies soars past our heads. Like, airborne undead. . .Another zombie sails past us. Its pinwheeling arms nearly take Evie’s head off. . . ” The scene is described over seven pages.
- Meathook grabs Dirk. Jack sees Dirk, “sagging, spinning, hanging from the monster’s tongue.” The two disappear.
- In an epic battle that takes place over several chapters, Meathook tries to stop Jack and the others from helping Dirk. “His one massive paw swipes, slashing the air, engulfing me. . . Quint cries. He’s scooped up, too. Our heads clonk tougher and my world spins.” Meathook captures all three kids.
- Jack escapes Meathook and jumps on Evie’s back. “It’s a whole hero-villainess piggyback situation. My hands grasp her cloak.”
- Jack and his friends have been “overrun by the undead. . . the zombies are on us! Quint’s robes are shredded! Teeth sink into June’s shoulder pads! A dripping mouth on Quint’s wrist. Hands tearing open my big white puffy pants. . . The zombies are flung backward on the heels. It’s like they’re being yanked by invisible strings.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Crud is used twice. When a monster goes to hit Quint, Jack yells “crud.”
- Dirk calls Jack a dork. Later he calls the evil villainess’s zombies “her dork collection.”
- Freaking is used once.
- Ghazt tells Evie she is a fool twice.
- Evie calls Jack an “idiot boy.”
- A new monster appears called Meathook. His characteristics include, “Big fist! Powerful Paw! Action Arm!”
- Monsters that look like eyeballs appear. When Jack sees the “goo-ball things” he thinks, “It’s a reminder of just how bizarre the world is now that the sight of a rolling, gooey, eyeball creature only medium weirds us out.”
- Warg has “spiny bone tentacles, and an outer eyeball layer. When the monster stomps on the floor, “at once the eyeballs roll toward her. They leap up, veering at her like some coat of peeping pupils.”
- Ghazt is the general of the undead.
- Dirk begins turning into a zombie. When Dirk moans, “it’s an awful combo cry: a howling human and a groaning zombie, mushed into one awful noise.”
- Something happens to the Louisville Slicer that makes it “different. It has some new power because of what happened.”
- Evie, an evil human villainess, is a worshiper of the Destructor of Worlds. While trying to understand the villainess, the kids find a book that explains that the worshipers want to build a portal. Quint explains, “Apparently, these worshipers had some success. They called themselves the Cabal of the Cosmic. . . Any creature can be a Servant—they need not be from a specific dimension.”
- The evil human villainess plans to use a three-step ritual to bring an evil being from another dimension. Part of the ritual is to “capture an undead human being. . . place the artifact in the zombified human’s hands to open a portal, allowing Ghazt to enter the zombified body. Ghazt will then take control of that person’s body. Forever.”