A fast paced adventure about the last 8 teens on Earth, Laura Pohl’s The Last 8 centers on Clover, a teen who is left alone when everyone she knows is killed in an alien invasion.
But when she hears a radio signal from Area 51, she crosses the country to find out who it’s coming from. And she meets them. The last teenagers on Earth.
Using their combined skills and mysterious camoflage against the aliens, Clover and her new friends fight back, despite all the risks, because a life not well lived is one not worth living.
content warning: suicide & suicidal thoughts
I sped through this way faster than I expected, especially given that
(1) I was not in a sci-fi mood (I want to read more romance right now)
(2) I read 50% while sitting in direct sunlight, sweating sunblock and sweat profusely
(3) Did I mention that I really wanted to read a romance novel?
BUT. I actually really enjoyed this. As much as I love romance-focused books, I greatly dislike books with other main plots that decide to pick up romance too, and I wholeheartedly stand by the idea that a traditional YA romance would have deteriorated the experience of reading The Last 8.
Before I get into this though, let me start by saying that this book was great and action-packed and really pulled through in being enjoyable.
I loved the action and the level-headedness Clover kept all throughout the story, which made it really focused on the plot, and let the reader think a lot about the mystery and the aliens and why these teens managed to survive on Earth when everyone else did not.
The action was there, it was present, and even though sometimes it was just Clover driving at the beginning of the story, it was still engaging as there’s a lot of things that had happened with everyone being killed by aliens, and I really enjoyed that engagement Pohl wrote into the story.
This was the book’s strongest point in my mind–I really enjoyed all the entertainment value in it, and that’s what made me keep on reading this novel.
As for the romance, there wasn’t really anything grand or sweeping that took up page time or made me want to tear my hair out, which I greatly enjoyed. None of that “we’re about to die let’s kiss at the WORST POSSIBLE MOMENT” stuff going on, thank goodness.
Plus, this book features a really diverse cast of characters, which was great to see.
What ultimately made me drop a star was how I felt like the characters weren’t dynamic enough. I didn’t think Clover really grew a lot as a character? She didn’t get that YA growth arc, and I personally wish she learned more in the duration of the story.
She’s smart at the beginning, smart at the middle, smart at the end. She knows what to do. And as much as it was nice getting to read a competent main character, I did feel like The Last 8 was missing a bit of the “teens are growing and learning” portion of the equation.
I wanted Clover to be more dynamic–I wanted her to really get that nice growth arc. So ultimately, although I think The Last 8 really pulled through with the plot arc, it was a bit lacking in the character portion.
But I still love the characters, especially the scene where we got to see Clover and some of her almost self-destructive thoughts, already deciding that the other teens didn’t like her and preemptively cutting herself out of the group.
That scene really resonated with me, because I think that sort of destructive behavior is something a lot of people experience and go through with, despite the varying levels of rationality of their conclusion.
Overall, The Last 8 was a super fun read that somehow made me enjoy and speed through sci-fi when I was in a very much Not Sci-Fi mood. I’d recommend to anyone looking for an action-packed story feat. aliens and the last teens on Earth!
Thank you so much to Netgalley and Sourcebooks FIRE for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!