Rise Up

First Second. (Last Pick: Bk. 3). Oct. 2020. 256p. Tr $26.99. ISBN 9781626728943; pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781626728950.
Gr 4-8–Earth, in Walz’s “Last Pick” universe, is a grim and dismal planet where humans viewed as useful were abducted while the “unworthy” (those under 16 and/or disabled) are left to toil under the oppressive rule of the Alien Federation. Originally deemed useless at the beginning of an alien invasion a few years ago (as depicted in the graphic novels Last Pick and Last Pick: Born To Run), twins Sam and Wyatt Erickson started a revolution. Sam, having turned 16, was taken by the aliens, while Wyatt, who appears to be on the autism spectrum, was left behind. Accompanied by an alien guide named Jackie and a human named Adiva, he travels intergalactically to plead with the aliens to free the humans. Wyatt and Sam’s plan sparks a dangerous, high-stakes war. Wyatt not only uncovers a secret that might alter the entire universe but also sharpens his leadership abilities. This is an adventure-filled sci-fi novel that sensitively highlights the humanity and heroism of those whom society sees as marginalized or unimportant. The characters in this dystopian landscape simply exist in their identities, free of stereotypes, while acknowledging the challenges they face—Adiva, who is Muslim, describes the discrimination she faces. Sam is in a same-sex relationship; Wyatt’s friend-turned-girlfriend is deaf. Sam and Wyatt are white, while Adiva is brown-skinned and wears a headscarf. A muted palette of green, browns, black, and grays, punctuated by pops of bright colors, helps convey mood and tone.
VERDICT Walz brings his trilogy to a satisfying conclusion. A must for fans of the earlier installments.

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