Endling: The Last

400p. HarperCollins/Harper. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062335524. POP
RedReviewStarGr 4–7—Byx has always thought of herself as last: last-born sibling, the youngest in her whole family, and least adept at all the skills valued by the caninelike "dairnes." But when her family, the last-known group of dairnes in Nedarra, is hunted down and murdered by humans under the rule of the villanous Murdano, she truly becomes the last—an Endling, the sole survivor of a species. Byx sets out on a desperate but hopeful journey in search of Dairneholm, a mythical settlement of dairnes. Along the way she is joined by an increasingly unlikely group of adventurers including Khala the human, a girl disguised as a boy with a mysterious past, and Tobble, the small and fiercely loyal wobbyk. Their mission becomes more dangerous as they discover the true machinations behind the dairnes's eradication. Fantasy lovers are in for a treat with this smartly paced, enthralling adventure that pairs novel and exciting world-building with classic high fantasy tropes and political intrigue. Applegate's characters feel fresh and modern, and their questioning of the status quo will resonate with today's middle graders. Illustrations and maps will help young readers imagine the rich setting filled with fantastical creatures that vie for power in Nedarra. The heart and courage Byx and her companions must find within as they stand up against unimaginable odds will inspire and delight.
VERDICT A sweeping fantasy epic for the middle grade set that will have readers clamoring for a follow-up. A first purchase.

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