Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences

The Last Book in the Universe

by Rodman Philbrick


Book Summary

The protagonist is called "Spaz," and his epilepsy keeps him from a common habit in his futuristic society--using mindprobe needles to imagine being somewhere else.  Gangs rule various regions surrounding Eden, the exclusive central zone where people are genetically engineered to avoid diseases and to succeed in specific careers.  Spaz embarks on a quest to see his sister, who is critically ill.  His journey is complicated by various gangs, and the fact that if he is caught outside his own zone, he will be marked for cancellation.

The Last Book in the Universe book cover
The Last Book in the Universe

Book Review

  Edgier than the Uglies trilogy, with references to mature content, this book would be well-suited for a discussion group for middle school gifted students.  Students can draw many parallels between Philbrick's futuristic fictional world and our current reality.

Class Structure Recommendation: Small Group Book Club, or Independent Reading

left quotation mark

But I know who the real hero is, and isn't me, or even the brave Lenaya.

It's an old man with a white beard and a walking stick and a heart so big it won't let him stop thinking

he can change the world by writing things down

in a book no one will ever read."  p. 181

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Poverty, Class Systems, Equity
  • Human Rights
  • Dystopian Societies
  • Courage
  • Benefits and Disadvantages of Technological Advancement

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

**Questions coming soon**

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