[Review] The Last Boy and Girl in the World — Siobhan Vivian

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Book Title:  The Last Boy and Girl in the World
Author:      Siobhan Vivian
Number of pages:  432

Synopsis:

the-last-boy-and-girl-in-the-world-siobhan-vivian-book-coverWhat if your town was sliding underwater and everyone was ordered to pack up and leave? How would you and your friends spend your last days together?

While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together.

And for Keeley, that means taking one last shot at the boy she’s loved forever.

(re: Goodreads @ The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian)


Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:

– The cover lust is real. Synopsis feels plot-heavy while the story is largely character driven with a protagonist you’ll either love/hate.
– Thematically relevant; sparking discussions per government influence as they relate to the identity of small groups/minorities
– The setting could have been further supported as the sinking town of Aberdeen still had so many fully functioning amenities
– Narrative unfolds in flashbacks; prologue opens with a scene near the end–a stylistic choice that you may enjoy/dislike

Initial Thoughts

This is, without fail, one of those “I tried to understand and sympathize with the characters but it just didn’t happen” kind of books. You’ll either enjoy it or hate it — I’m sure of this.

Full disclosure: I received an ARC of The Last Boy and Girl in the World from Simon and Schuster Canada.


Afterthoughts:

Premise

Baseline: I was excited to explore a town slowly being submerged by water but the high stakes tension was constantly muffed by adolescent spontaneity that I just couldn’t get on board with. 

What I was hoping for was more of a “okay, our home is flooded, now what?” narrative and though it gets there with its slowly paced and layered timeline, the arduous romantic dynamic–core to the narrative–detracted from the high-concept, ecological selling point of this story (plus the gorgeous cover).


Setting

There are two sides to the setting that are both thematically relevant (good) and questionably unrealistic (bad).

Let’s start with the bad. Even though each chapter opens with a weather report vividly painting the volatile weather pushing this town down under, it’s the technological infrastructures that irked me. Point is: unless I missed some major info-dump explaining how the town kept electronically afloat, everything seemed like it was just another run-of-the-mill-day with the exception of streams of water flowing through buildings.

Hm.

Maybe the town in which I reside is absolute garbage in preventing power outages but I swear that even if a little bird sat it’s ass on an electrical transmission tower, my neighborhood would be shrouded in darkness. (I’m only half kidding.) It just perplexed me that everything remained fully functioning.

But onto the good.

This next bit might not have been the author’s intent but it’s how I understood the theme. The parallels drawn toward indigenous communities and the narrative promoting relocation of minority stakeholders and [their] lands is handled with matter-of-fact dread. It does gloss over (and perhaps maybe romanticizes) the dollar cost payout being received but is it enough that it at least brings up this issue without being too upfront about it? I think so, only because this bleak situation is applicable to other realms of governmental influence.


Narration

The prologue opens with a scene near the end of the story whereby the entire story is presented in flashbacks (to which is commendable that the MC is able to recant everything). It’s a stylistic choice that didn’t work for me because although it boosts initial intrigue, all I thought about was just wanting to get to that point of the story as opposed to the gradual mystery of the rain. Then upon arriving at that moment, it was just so anticlimactic.

However, the pacing was among the biggest issues for me. It’s this slow, undulating increase of water that doesn’t really add value toward the tension anymore than just to say “oh, hey, our house is sinking…well, that sucks, let’s go outside and throw rocks against a wall“. That’s not an example of what happens in the story but scenes are stretched out to limited results.


Characters

Perhaps this review is just my cosmic revelation that I wasn’t able to connect with the protagonist. And it’s true, I couldn’t. Keeley grows up a shit ton in this story; perhaps ten-times the standard protagonist. But it’s the onset of that growth that makes me weary. She wears this lackadaisical armor and though I understand that intent of silliness/humour as a ‘coping mechanism’, it’s her validation of actions to the awareness of other’s struggles that didn’t work for me. Add to that the fact that every other supporting character felt more real and “grown up” (for a lack of a better term), Keeley basically remained a difficult character to root for.

In terms of romance, this story features one of those “oh I knew you existed but I didn’t ‘know’ you existed” instalust turned romance tropes. Gag. Also love-triangle ish so there’s that to look forward to.


Overall

I had a conversation with a friend who read (and enjoyed) Vivian’s The Last Boy and Girl in the World where she mentioned that [teen] girls are like Keeley and the faltering relationships were realistically fleshed out. And though it may be a cop-out way to validate that this story isn’t for the non-contemporary reader in me, that may be an okay reason for you to try this story out anyways.

(This is as coherent of a review as it’ll get, unfortunately.)


Cheers,
Joey

connect: 
afterthoughtAn // twitter
anotherafterthought // goodreads
picturevomit // instagram

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36 thoughts on “[Review] The Last Boy and Girl in the World — Siobhan Vivian”

  1. You review books differently than any other blogger I’ve ever seen. Very particular and specific. But you know what you want and like.
    I will have to read more of your reviews to get familiar with your review style.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree the cover on this one is really cool. It almost sounds like something I would maybe want to read until you mentioned the pacing. Slow pacing kills books for me. Great review!

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      1. LOL! I swear not everything I read is all sexed up! (But I have to tell you that my sister read The Deal a while back based on my recommendation. Her husband picked up the book and started reading. He was like, “You’re sister reads DIRTY books!” Ah!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It is criminal for a book this beautiful to be even a little bit underwhelming. They should have mediocre cover to warn me off *glares* I probably would have the same issues warming up to these characters as well – mostly because I usually find intentionally witty characters to be quite lame? XD

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    1. And yet so many books with loads of hype and appealing covers simply fail to deliver all the time. Such is life, I guess. The MC is more forced happy-go-lucky than witty (the banter is meh) but yeah I don’t think you would enjoy this book either, Aentee.

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  4. This is a really interesting review! I love that you’ve analysed every aspect of the book without giving too much away. I don’t think I’d enjoy this book so much because it’s quite unrealistic and the romance obviously doesn’t sound too appealing, and I’m way too critical of inaccuracies. Great review though! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, that’s my intent with my reviews — to vomit a bunch of objectively subjective nonsense without spoiling the story — so I’m glad you found some value in it! The romance is basically instalust/love for the first 88% with a background love triangle happening (I’ll let you guess which one wins) and it was incredibly tedious to follow.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The cover is definitely pretty cool but the words love-triangle have me running in the other direction haha. Plus slow pacing’s are usually a hit or miss for me and I can definitely see how it takes away from the tension. Meh, I think I’ll give this one a miss.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Apocalyptic-type stories interest me in theory, but rarely engage me in actuality. I’d have passed on this one even without seeing your critique–but all the flaws you listed have firmly settled this book into my Meh, Nah section (which is beside my Nope section, and a stone’s throw from Fuck No, just in case you were wondering how exactly I arrange my To Be Avoided shelves, which of course you were).

    A+ review, gold star.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I personally enjoy most apocalyptic stories because it’s that dread of unknowns that pushes equally incompetent characters to do a bunch of crazy shit. So I can usually get on board with those stories on plot alone. But I wasn’t able to grasp onto the plot in this story to really care for much that happened. I’m actually still waiting for you to review a non-Fantasy title, Liam, because all I’ve been seeing you shit on as of late is SF-F!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Are there any apocalyptic-type stories you’d recommend for someone who’s not all that into them?

        I’m reviewing Nina LaCour’s Everything Leads to You (a lesbian contemporary romance thing) next, so that’ll hopefully sate your non-SF/F craving for another, shall we say, six months.

        Fantasy’s definitely my comfort zone; I develop some intermittent apathy and attention deficit when I read contemporary, and there haven’t been many historical fiction things that’ve caught my eye lately. And, to be honest, I’ve never given mysteries or thrillers much of a chance, though I do have a few in my TBR.

        Maybe I should make an effort to read at least three or four non-SF/F books a year? I, uh, like to set my bars low. -_-

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        1. I’m really bad at giving recommendations so maybe I’ll just defer to what other people have enjoyed? More importantly though, is that I feel as though you have similar “no fucks to give” mentality for books with shitty content and/or storytelling. And it is in this reason why I’m afraid to recommend to you some of my “favourites” hah.

          I just saw your rating for Everything Leads To You and I think 3/5 is a respectable score for you, Liam, because like me 3/5 is still a solid book, yay/nay? Please do correct me if I’m wrong.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ahaha, no worries. And hey, you can rest assured that if you love a book I don’t think highly of, I won’t think less of you for it. (I’d probably just be envious that you got to enjoy something I didn’t.)

            Yeah, I’d say our 3s are about the same–though I think for me, “solid” is closer to 3.5. I’d still recommend a 3-star book to anyone looking for something in its genre to read, though.

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                1. I know plenty of haven’t read anything by Ness and that’s okay! MTT isn’t my ‘go-to’ Ness recommendation (it’s usually A Monster Calls; which there’s a movie for coming out October, you should watch the trailer) but between 3 books in CWT and More Than This, I think this was the more accessible choice?

                  Don’t worry, we can still be friends so long as you enter the world of Crown of Midnight snark…

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Yep, I need to watch the movie.

                    Would you be content with C.C. Hunter’s Born at Midnight? Because that’s what I was looking at next, though I might be open to other suggestions. I need a break from Celaena & Gang.

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  7. Alas, this sounds like something that I wouldn’t enjoy myself. Which is a pity considering “the cover lust is real”. Like you said, maybe lathes might like it. I’ll give it a flip through in a bookstore when I see it and maybe decide for myself then. Hope your next read is more enjoyable.

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    1. I’m just full of negativity these few weeks that I’ll gladly trade off a few meh books for one amazing book (it hasn’t happened yet). But yes, I do recommend giving it a gander to see if the writing style and storytelling is something you’d enjoy. At least you’ll be guaranteed a very nice cover on your shelf if you do ever pick it up!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great review, Joey! As other commenters have stated, love your specificity. Also, your comment about the parallels to minority stakeholders losing their land is so spot on and intelligent. Props to you for giving it your all in your reviews, even though I am disappointed that this book did not live up to its eye-catching title and cover.

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    1. You are always too kind for me, Thomas! I love reading into the little details even if they’re totally made up hahaha but it’s one of those issues that I wouldn’t have paid attention to if not for it’s relevance in my own life and community (hopefully resolved by your favourite Trudeau!)

      Like

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