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March 24, 2020

The Last Human by Zack Jordan ~ a Review

by MK French

Not so many years ago, Shenya the Widow was a void-cold killer. And as hobbies - no, passions - go, it was extraordinarily fulfilling. Hunt all night, feast at dawn, take one's pick of the choicest males before the long day's sleep... oh yes. She still fantasizes about it - through, sadly, fantasy is all she has left. This is because Shenya the Widow has been conquered, mind and body, by an ancient and terrible force. Sarya the Daughter knew she had to hide her actual identity from neighbors on the station she grew up on. She always hoped to someday change her fate, but not in the way that it actually did. Thrust onto a stolen ship with a ragtag team of other intelligences that have motives of their own, Sarya isn't sure what that fate is actually going to be. But one massive intelligence is working against another, and Sarya is caught right in the middle, along with the fate of the rest of Humanity. (The Last Human, p. 4)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

March 2020; Del Rey; 978-0451499813
audio, ebook, print (448); space opera
It's fascinating that we're introduced from the start to secrets within secrets, as well as the explanation of the tiered intelligence systems that convey rights, responsibilities, and access to resources on the Watertower Station. Interspersed with chapters following Sarya's journey are articles from the Network that explain the concept of tiered intelligence and entry into the Network, as well as the background of various species, the devastation that had followed in the wake of Humans interacting with other species, and faster than light travel. This fleshes out the background for this world, as well as the importance of Network and having trillions of star systems working together within the galaxy.

The Widow culture and species are something out of nightmare fuel: eight legs, black carapace, mandibles that are still dangerous to be near, an instinct to kill and rend, limbs that regenerate and end in knives. It's this alien and odd creature that had raised Sarya in accordance with her culture, hiding the fact that she is Human. Grafting that culture over the instincts of a Human is discussed at multiple points throughout the novel, as well as the nature of intelligence and what constitutes a legal person when measured by this intelligence rating. It's a geometric scale, so the various discussions about intelligence, networking on a galactic scale and the nature of surviving in an orderly state are discussed at various points and in different ways. Zack Jordan's various studies throughout the years and his experience working in the intelligence community and creating video games really shows in these areas of the text.

The Last Human is amazing on so many levels with the truly alien beings and cultures that are introduced and worked with, and the philosophical questions posed. Not only for intelligence and the creation of a huge Network, but also the nature of choice, freedom, and blame. It's woven into the text by characters discussing it as the plot progresses, because what is freedom and choice if it's presented without context? Sarya is able to be manipulated by those more intelligent, but it doesn't mean she doesn't have agency or the capacity to make change within the parameters she was given. I feel for her in so many areas, from the grief she feels, the self-harm to bring herself into the proper frame of mind to access a device, and the determination to do the right thing, no matter what. She's up against massive odds, and we always root for the underdog. Here, this brings us on a wonderful and thought-provoking journey that's well worth the time we take.

Buy The Last Human at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband and three young children.

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  1. This sounds really interesting. Great review!

  2. your fabulous review makes me want to grab it.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  3. Hey, thank you for reading my book! I'm so glad you liked it. - ZJ