Genesis

Noah has died again. Now he is determined to live. After an asteroid destroys the Earth, the planet is left in the hands of Fire Lake’s sophomore class.  After being murdered and uploaded into a simulation, the group of 64 students is left to duke it out and hopefully make it through the Guardian’s game. There are no rules, but repeatedly dying has trained Noah. Now, he plans to lead the strong into the future. At any cost.

Min Wilder knows that survival isn’t enough. In a world where violence is king, Min rebels against allowing others to determine who lives and who dies. She will fight for what is right. She will fight against anyone who stands in her way.

The second book of Project Nemesis follows the same group of kids, alternating perspectives between Min, Tack, and Noah. The kids are told by the Guardian, the one in charge of the computer program, that they must fight each other to make it through the program and eventually return to real life. He claims that the simulation will only allow the strongest and smartest to return to the real world. This spurs the kids to form groups and turn on one another as their existence becomes a fight for survival.

Min, Tack, and Noah all take separate journeys and handle the violence and new reality differently. Min refuses to bow to the moral pits that the violence keeps tugging the students into. Tack completely gives himself over to the violence, willing to do anything to make it out alive. And Noah believes completely in the program’s rules, until Min reminds him of his humanity. All three teenagers’ journeys spotlight different ways of handling grief, trauma, and catastrophe. The students’ struggle with whom to trust and what to believe is both interesting and thought-provoking.

In order to fully understand Genesis, readers need to read Nemesis first. Reichs does an excellent job of incorporating past events from Nemesis into the story; the short reminders help the reader stay engaged. However, what makes the reader keep turning the pages are the intriguing situations the students face—the story has non-stop action and startling surprises.

Genesis is extremely violent and has an outrageous storyline. While it takes some faith from readers, this story does an excellent job navigating this unique plot. Genesis will keep the readers guessing until the very end. Readers who enjoy suspense and adventure will enjoy the plot twists and action sequences. Readers who are fans of Maze Runner will want to pick up the Project Nemesis series.

Sexual Content

  • Tack says Noah is “too busy roasting people like marshmallows, or making out with his hunting knife” to look for him and Min.
  • Toby volunteers to take Min back to the jail in town. Min says, “Screw you, Toby.” He replies, “You offering?” As they start back into town, he “put a hand to the small of my (Min’s) back. He left it there for a few paces, then ran his fingers up and over my bra strap.”
  • Min announces that she’s willing to sacrifice herself so the group can make it to Phase Three. Noah is filled with emotion and insists that she’s their leader. Noah then kisses Min “in front of the others. His touch was electric, and soft, and sad.” Noah insists that he should be the one to sacrifice himself. Min says, “‘Don’t leave me, okay? I forgive you. I . . . I love you.’ I kissed him then, hard on the mouth.”
  • Right before Noah and Min get in their tubes to be regenerated, they share a kiss. “Then Noah’s lips found mine and I wrapped my arms around him, squeezing, losing myself in his warmth. . . I grabbed him again and mashed his face with another kiss.”

Violence

  • A group of kids is ambushed as they are sneaking through the woods. Their rivals who ambushed them start shooting. “Zach dropped like a puppet with its strings cut, a dark stain spreading. . .Morgan’s body jerked . . .Then she slumped onto her butt, blubbering, glossy liquid spilling from her mouth.” Later in the scene, the rest of the group gets away and sets fire to a cabin with the rivals inside. The people inside screamed and were locked inside as the cabin burned down. The people are not described as they are dying.
  • Chris and Mike kill Min by locking her in an elevator and blowing up the cables. “The wall exploded, shards of metal lacerating my arms and legs. Flames licked my skin. . . My legs smashed up into my body. The roof slammed down on top of me.”
  • While on their way to the Silo, Min and Tack run into Neb who is staying at a summer camp with four others. While talking, “Neb spun sideways. . . gasping in confusion as a red bloom spread across his chest.” Two kids are attacking the camp, and one shoots Min and Tack with an assault rifle. It is not depicted in any detail.
  • Min is ambushed. When the three assailants try to capture her, one “caught a fist in his teeth for his trouble.” They put a bag over her head and tie her up.
  • Devin drops some food, and Ethan overreacts. “. . . he raised his gun and shot Devin in the stomach.” Devin doesn’t die immediately, so Ethan shoots him again. This is all done with the understanding that he will revive at one of the reset points.
  • Zach, part of the team trying to ransack a store, gets shot in an ambush. “. . . a line of bullets ripped into his jacket.” Then Noah shoots the sniper who killed Zach. The sniper “toppled forward and fell to the sidewalk with a sickening crunch. . . leaving a wide smear on the icy concrete.”
  • The convenience store is blown up. A couple of kids standing in front of the store were shot and killed. One of them “had been tossed face-first into the gutter and was smoldering with tiny flames. The victim, a girl, lay unnaturally, her neck twisted too far around.”
  • In order to give Min an extra life, Tack tricks her into shooting him and causing him to reset. It is not described in any detail.
  • Noah and another kid use machine guns to shoot a group of kids following them. No details are given.
  • In order to escape the jail and show up at the reset points, Akio and a couple of other kids used a fork to kill themselves. “The most horrifying jailbreak in history—a human murder chain. . . Ran myself into a wall.”
  • Noah and Tack get in a fistfight. Noah’s “left fist flew, striking Tack across the face. . . Punching. Kicking. Clawing. . .” The fight lasts two pages.
  • Tack, Noah, and their team try to ambush Ethan’s group but instead get ambushed themselves. “The barrel hit him chest-high and broke open, covering him in flaming liquid. Richie screamed. . . he collapsed in seconds. . . A tongue of red enveloped Jamie. She made a sickly screaming sound, a red stream leaking from her mouth.” Tack and Noah throw grenades, and “Toby’s left leg was missing. . . Toby put his gun in his mouth and calmly pulled the trigger.”Noah gets ambushed. “The first shot took me in the shin. The second struck my side.”
  • Min must shoot Noah four times to even her life count. Noah “was lying on the ground in a puddle of warm, slick blood. . . I was down again. The drop cloth was soaked through with dark red liquid. . . I closed my eyes as she thrust the gun barrel against my forehead. . . Bang. Bang. Bang.
  • Ethan’s group and Min’s group attack each other. Over twenty kids are involved in the fighting. “Then Kyle stood over his body, unloading on Chris every time he tried to get up. . . Dropping his gun, he unsheathed a KA-BAR knife from his belt and stabbed Leighton in the chest. . . Before he could fire, Ethan tried to tackle him, but Toby sidestepped in a blink and tripped him, then shot Ethan five times in the back.” The fighting lasts six pages.
  • Tack sacrifices himself to get the group to Phase Three of the program. “Tack put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • At the beginning of the simulation, Sarah “destroyed the liquor store the first week. I let Cash and Finn get drunk and smash everything.”

Language

  • “Jesus” and “God” are used as exclamations.
  • Profanity is used extensively. Profanity includes: “jackass, “ass,” “fucking,” “fuck,” “hell,” “damn,” “crap,” “freaking,” “assholes,” “pissed,” “bastards,” “shit,” “bullshit,” “bitch,” “bitchin’,” “goddamn,” “douchebag,” and “prick.”
  • Derrick says, “Sarah’s lost her damn mind.”Casey
  • is upset when Noah acts like only the boys are good at fighting. “‘Since when did sex matter?’ Casey shouted. . . ‘Don’t count up penises and assume you know the score.’”
  • Ferris walked across the valley to get to Noah’s house. He says that the lake was, “colder than Santa’s balls with that wind.”
  • Noah asks Tack to eliminate him. “No way, Noah. . . Fuck you, Noah! You want to play Jesus, do it your goddamn self.”

Supernatural

  • In the program, the kids figure out that as they kill each other, they gain strength and powers from the confirmed kill.

Spiritual Content

  • While traveling across the valley to try and unite the groups of kids against Ethan, Tack jokes, “So we’re not seeking converts along the way? . . . This is the worst mission trip ever.”
  • Min is worried she will be captured or killed by those after her. “Pray to God Noah isn’t sitting there waiting for me. Pray to God? Or the Guardian?
  • Min says a small prayer because she believes that Sarah cannot manipulate the program.
  • Min is nervous when she learns that Sarah actually has the power to manipulate the program on her own. “Sarah was playing God, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.”
  • Sarah discovers how to change the program. Derrick says, “Sarah acting like the voice of God.”
  • To even people’s numbers, Hector needs to shoot someone. He refuses, saying, “My religion forbids it.”

by Hannah Neeley

 

 

The Last Kids on Earth and the Cosmic Beyond

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.

Sexual Content

  • 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.

Violence

  • 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

  • None

Language

  • 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.”

Supernatural

  • 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.”

Spiritual Content

  • 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.”

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