Clover Martinez and the Last Teenagers on Earth are busy exploring the galaxy after leaving earth behind…even if they are homesick. So when their ship receives a distress signal from their former home, they hope against hope that it means that there are other survivors. But as soon as they arrive, they realize something’s deeply wrong: strange crystal formations are taking over Earth’s soil and threatening to destroy the planet.
Seeking the origin of the formations, the group discovers a colony of survivors hidden in the mountains. Relief gives way to panic as the teenagers realize these survivors aren’t who they seem…and Clover and her friends might not be able to escape.
Warnings: (as mentioned in book) mention of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, a panic attack, and PTSD
The First 7 has an unexpected twist to the ending of The Last 8, which was well concluded on its own, with the 7 Last Teenagers on Earth returning and finding out that Earth wasn’t as empty as they thought. They had been zipping through space for seven months, seeing the sights, mingling with other aliens, rescuing Sputnik from her worshipers, etc. when they get a distress signal that seems to be coming from Earth. Initially divided on whether to go back or not, when they are in peril, they end up back there and find that there have been Some Changes. As they explore this new change on Earth, they find out that they are trapped in a barrier that extends across an entire state, and that there is a human colony Unity now, and Andy has been affected by something that has them trapped until they solve the mystery of the crystal formations and cure whatever is going on with her.
A big theme in this book is grief and moving on from it, having hope in something new growing. When the Last Teens arrive on Earth, they are still a tight knit group, but the longer they stay, they start to have divided opinions. They have been on the move for months, knowing no one else, so finding other humans leads to mixed reactions among them. They are wary at first, of course, and obviously they have to hide the truth about their part-alien genes, but they don’t know whether to feel comfortable in this new setting or not. Some of them are looking to settle down, some don’t find it to be the place they belong, some are still skeptical of Unity’s motives, and Clover herself is confused about what she thinks, especially when she finds a link to her past there. They have all been grieving from the loss of their planet, their families and loved ones, and Clover particularly is still traumatized from the events of the past book, so thinking about moving on from that grief is difficult, as well as the thought about whether they can move on when their loss is so fresh for them. It was complex, and different for each character, and I feel Pohl did a good job rendering that in this book, as well as giving more time to the friendships between the characters in this book (something that felt rushed in the last one).
I won’t say much about the mystery of the crystal formations, only that it was a good plot with some predictable elements and some unexplained ones, but ultimately it was satisfactory. As a finale to a duology, it did well in introducing new elements, but also sticking to its core themes.
Is it diverse? aromantic bisexual Latina main character; queer and PoC secondary characters
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Sourcebooks Fire, via Edelweiss.
Previous book in The Last 8 duology
Releases on March 3, 2020