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“When all is said and done, I’d want to have been useful. To have mattered,” Bardle. –The Last Kids on Earth and the Midnight Blade
The Last Kids on Earth and the Midnight Blade
The Last Kids on Earth #5
by Max Brallier
AR Test, Good for Reluctant Readers
Surviving their first winter after the Monster Apocalypse was no easy feat, yet Jack and his buddies waste no time springing to action against some of the nastiest, most evil monsters around. When Jack discovers his Louisville Slicer has new otherworldly powers, he’s thrown into epic training to find out what kind of destruction the blade can wield. But between fighting off zombies, fleeing from strange, glowy Vine-Thingies erupting from the ground, and squeezing in a video game session or two, there’s barely time left to figure out what’s wrong with their buddy, Dirk. Dirk has been acting weird any time he’s around the undead. When an unexpected villain appears, can Jack and his friends save themselves—and the rest of the world—from cosmic domination?
The fifth installment of The Last Kids on Earth brings back some old friends and enemies. The action-packed sequences begin with Jack and his friends trying to help Dirk get over his depressed state. Younger readers will enjoy the entertaining activities that Jack plans to help Dirk. However, the fight scenes with the Vine-Thingies may be slightly confusing. In the end, Jack learns that “being different and not fitting in—that’s good sometimes.”
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 adds humor.
At first, The Last Kids on Earth and the Midnight Blade may look like just another graphic novel. However, the characters are surprisingly well-developed and readers will come away with a valuable lesson about working together. Both the human kids and the monsters work together to defeat evil. Throughout the story, Jack realizes he has to do what’s best for his friends, even when it may be painful for him.
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 like The Last Kids on Earth and the Midnight Blade because the story keeps the same humorous, non-frightening format as the previous books. The story ends with a conclusion that makes it clear that Thrull will return, and it gives the possibility that Jack’s friends just might find their parents.
- Jack and Bardle need a place to keep a group of zombies. They ask a monster if the zombies can stay on her property. Warg gives her permission, but says, “there is one condition.” Jack replies, “I don’t have to watch you guys make out, do I?”
- Jack and his friends sneak into Ghazt’s lair and are discovered. Biggun tries to help Jack and his friends by “hurling zombies right and left. June and Quint are back-to-back, battling the Cabal of the Cosmic. Crack! Ghazt’s tail smacks me, and I’m hurled across the room. I land against a half-inflated pile of bowling lane bumpers.” During the fight, “Skaelka’s razor-sharp blade slices through Ghazt’s tail! The creature SHRIEKS. His eyes go wide and his face contorts into an ‘oh no now my tail is just a nub’ face.” Ghazt eventually falls through the floor and disappears. The fight scene is described over seven pages.
- A huge eyeball is attacked by vines. Jack and his friends try to help the eyeball by attacking the vnes. Dirk screams “MALLET MELEE!!!” and the fight begins. “Each goo-slime-covered swing melts, slices, and tears through the vines! Soon, only one titanically thick Vine-Thingy still chokes it.” The group try to help but, “Vine-Thingies burst through the pavement, like hundreds of spindly branches. They clutch Hairy Eyeball monster. The monster shrieks and struggles, but it’s no use. An instant later, the eyeball is gone—pulled, howling, into the crumbling pavement.” The battle is described over ten pages.
- The vines try to capture Jack and his friends. Someone “uses the Gift’s Wolverine-style blade to slice through vines. Green goo splatters the ground.” The kids run for their lives.
- In an effort to take control of the zombies, Thrull appears. When Bardle raises his sword, “Thrull lifts the war hammer and it seems to hang in the air, defying gravity, then he swings. A crashing boom. A flash of energy. And then metal crunching—Bardle slamming into a nearby car. Thrull’s blow catapulting him out of the wreckage and across the street.” After a ten page battle, Bardle dies.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Freaking is used occasionally.
- Crud is used seven times. When June makes a joke, Jack thinks, “the teasing—it makes it all feel normal again. And I appreciate the crud out of June for it.”
- When Bardle is hurt, Jack says, “Holy crud, that scared me!”
- Jack calls Thrull a “DOOF! WAD!”
- When Jack swings the Slicer at a zombie, Jack feels “the Slicer catch—like the blade and the zombie are connected by some strange magnetism.” Everything freezes, then “the hovering zombie is thrust down, too. Its knees buckled and it crumples to the floor in a drooling, groaning heap.”
- A Scrapken, which is an octopus-like creature, grabs Jack’s hand, causing him pain. Jack uses the Slicer to cut off the Scrapken’s tentacle. “The Scrapken howling. Dirk stammering. Me clutching my arm and shouting up at the monster.” Jack apologizes and “the severed tentacle waves in front of me, leaking thick blue-green ooze.” The tentacle acts like a glove and allows Jack to hold the burning hot Slicer.
- Thrull and the kids fight to get Ghazt’s tail because of its ability to control zombies. When Jack touches the tail a “big mass” of “dark other-dimension energy” courses through his glove. The “rat tail’s skin begins to bubble. It’s being pulled into the glove. . . I smell burning and I see the last bit of energy extracted from the tail. After the process is complete, Thrull’s left with a long, winding, skeletal appendage.”