Literature: The Last Book in the Universe
They call me Spaz, which is kind of a mope name, but I don't mind, not anymore. I'm talking into an old voicewriter program that prints out my words because I was there when the Bully Bangers went to wheel the Ryter for his sins, and I saw what they saw, and I heard what they heard, and it kind of turned my brain around.
"Nobody around here reads anymore. Why bother, when you can just use a mindprobe needle and shoot all the images and excitement into your brain? I've heard of books, but they were long before I was born, in the backtimes before the Big Shake, when everything supposedly was perfect, and everybody lived rich. Personally, I doubt the backtimes ever existed. It's like a story you tell to make yourself feel better. As if having a past makes the future somehow worth believing in. In real life, nobody comes to your rescue. Believe me, I know. But then I met Ryter, this old gummy who had a lot of crazy ideas. Together we tried to change the world..."
A 2000 young adult novel by by Rodman Philbrick who you might know as the author of Freak the Mighty
The Last Book in the Universe provides examples of:
- After the End
- Asskicking Equals Authority
- Author Avatar: Word of God says Ryter is this.
- Badass Biker: The Vandals are a whole gang of this.
- Badass In Charge: The latch-bosses.
- Bittersweet Ending: Ryter's dead and The Urb has fallen into chaos after being cut off from mindprobes, which are essentially drugs. On the other hand, Bean has been cured of her illness and Little Face has a new home with the Proovs in Eden.
- Cheerful Child: Little Face. How cute!
- Cool Old Guy: Ryter.
- Crapsack World: The Urb, where most of the story takes place. Everything's broken down and smog fills the air, making everything you see grey, and everyone lives in perpetual poverty. Gangs rule specific areas and their word is law.
- Crapsaccharine World: ...On the other side of the spectrum, you have Eden, within the Urb, which is exactly as the name implies.
- Cursed with Awesome: Spaz, due to his epilepsy, can't take the mind probes. This makes him more intelligent and less passive than most others.
- Disaster Scavengers: Most in the Urb.
- Death by Childbirth According to Billy Bizmo, Spaz's father, this is how his mother died.
- Designer Babies: Proovs, who are genetically Improved humans who live in Eden, cut off from the unwashed masses of the latches.
- Escapism: Deconstructed with Probes, which are basically fantasy worlds injected into your mind. You might never want to come out.
- First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Towards the end, Spaz states outright that he's not the hero of the story—it's actually Ryter.
- Forbidden Zone: The minefield separating the latches from Eden.
- From Bad to Worse: When Ryter and Spaz are forced to leave Eden, they find that the probes have all been deactivated, and the Urb has fallen into chaos.
- Future Slang: Zoomed note . Carboshake note . Gummy note . And many more.
- Eden Drug Enforcement: It is Eden that supplies the probes, in an attempt to deaden the minds of the normals and make it easier to wipe them out.
- Happily Adopted: Little Face is secretly adopted by Lanaya's "contributors", or parents.
- Heartwarming Orphan: The five-year-old Little Face.
- Ill Girl: Spaz's adoptive sister, Bean, who is later revealed to have leukemia. With the help of Eden's technology, she gets better.
- Instant Expert: Bean at chess.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Ryter and Spaz, eventually.
- Knife Nut: Lotti Getts, the boss of the Vandals.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Billy Bizmo to Spaz.
- MacGuffin Girl: Bean.
- The Man Behind the Curtain: In one of the latches Spaz and Ryter pass through, the boss is a shriveled brain-probe addict who no longer has the physical strength or mental presence to run his territory. His gang stays together by dogmatically following the rules he laid down in earlier times.
- Meaningful Name: Spaz isn't just a name, it's a warning.
- Plucky Girl: Lanaya.
- Red Baron: Boss Lady. The Latch Queen. Nails. The White Widow. Lotti Getts, latch-boss of The Vandals.
- Rebellious Princess: Literally Lanaya,
- Shout-Out: Many, from Yeats to Odysseus.
- Talking the Monster to Death: The climax is Lanaya's speech to the Masters and the Proovs at the end, which doesn't work.
- The Beautiful Elite: Proovs.
- The End of the World as We Know It: The Great Shake.
- The Magnificent: Mongo.
- The Obi-Wan: Ryter.
- The Ojou: Lanaya, complete with a castle.
- Third-Person Person: Billy. Unsettlingly.
- Title Drop: Towards the end, referring to Spaz.
- Tsundere: Lanaya, a fairly straight example.
- Older Sidekick
- What a Drag: Poor Ryter...
- Why Did It Have to be Rats?: Spaz.