The Last Wild Piers Torday Top Teen Books

Original author: Piers Torday

last-wild-teen-book-piers-tordayTHE LOWDOWN
In a world where animals no longer exist, twelve-year-old Kester Jaynes sometimes feels like he hardly exists either. Locked away in a home for troubled children, he’s told there’s something wrong with him. So when he meets a flock of talking pigeons and a bossy cockroach, Kester thinks he’s finally gone crazy.

But the animals have something to say. And they need him.

The pigeons fly Kester to a wild place where the last creatures in the land have survived. A wise stag needs Kester’s help, and together they must embark on a great journey, joined along the way by an overenthusiastic wolf cub, a military-trained cockroach, a mouse with a ritual for everything, and a stubborn girl named Polly. The animals saved Kester Jaynes. But can Kester save the animals?


My story begins with me sitting on a bed, looking out of the window. I know that doesn’t sound like much. But let me tell you where the bed is, and what I can see from it. The bed is right in the corner of a room only just big enough for it, and the bed is only just big enough for a kid my age.
—Paperback edition


Soon-to-be thirteen year old Kester Jaynes narrates this well-paced, easy to devour fantasy. Sad, brave, sarcastic, Kester begins the story as a prisoner at Spectum Hall and over the course of the book grows into a leader of this group. He begins to learn from the animals, and remains hopeful of finding his father and curing them of the red-eye sickness.

Kester’s companion is Polly, a knowledgeable, caring and very determined girl living with her cat Sidney, who has had the red-eye for the last two weeks but hasn’t infected her. Polly cares about her cat and knows what is edible or poisonous in the forest.

The animals travelling with them–Stag, Wolf-Cub, General the cockroach, the pigeons–have their moments of bravery and development, but they are not as fully-fleshed out.  There is a distinctly stylistic way that the mute Kester thoughtspeaks with the animals that is intriguing.  The novel gets off to a slow start but its simple, grim tone is a pleasure.  And the talking animals never reach insipid cartoon sidekick heights.

A few points seemed glossed over.  In particular things like the number of kids in Spectrum Hall seeming too few in number to justify the building’s existence, how quickly the prototype cure is created, and how the adults in the novel seem to give Kester and Polly first crack at any problem, removing their own adult agency.  The villains, from Captain Skuldiss to Ma, are also not fully fleshed out.  Motivations are seen but not detailed or felt.

Readers will enjoy the narratives and personalities of the animals, how Kester develops as he leads them, and Polly’s forest know-how. There is also a lovely map at the start of the book.  The main character is mute, which might be of special interest to folks who have or have loved ones with disabilities.  The author does not shy away from the reality of loss, death, and that sacrifices must be made along the way.

Prophetic dreams set up for a sequel.

Appropriate for ages 12+.No strong language, only adult alcohol use, no drug use or sexual situations.  Some intense situations, emotionally intense situations, kidnapping, physical illness, and violence.

Deals with family issues, identity, responsibility, friendship, and the importance of nature.


 If you…

  • Love animals, adventure, and dystopians
  • Are a fan of Animorphs, Hunger Games, or James and the Giant Peach
  • Enjoyed stories of teamwork
  • Have ever felt like it was you against all the adults in your life



YA Fantasy

Hardcover & Ebook, 336 pages

Published March 18th, 2014 by Viking Juvenile (ISBN 0670015547)

(Review copy provided by Viking Juvenile.)


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