Richard Johnson, a college student, just spent his last dime on food, lost his wealthy girlfriend, and had his bike stolen. To add to his misery, he returns to his apartment where he runs into his strange neighbor. Convinced this bizarre man is more than he seems, Richard and his land lady’s bull dog, Khan, sneak into his apartment where they find a timegate to the future. Along with his set theory teacher and her brother, they embark upon a soaring and treacherous journey through space and time to discover a terrible truth-mankind is being slowly and systematically exterminated.
House of the Last Man on Earth
by Robert B. Marcus Jr & Ryan B. Marcus
Mockingbird Lane Press
May 11, 2015
House of the Last Man on Earth is quite a fun ride. Richard Johnson is having possibly the worst Wednesday of his life. He wakes up late, misses a pop quiz in Set Theory, loses his piece-of-junk bicycle to a thief with low standards, gets dumped by his rich girlfriend, and falls through a shimmering portal in his creepy neighbor’s bathroom. And that’s just on Wednesday.
Alright, let’s start with what I loved about this book. First off, I love how actual, real science is built into the story without going into lecture mode. I watch a lot of shows on the Science channel, paid attention in Science classes in highschool, and watch the Big Bang Theory. That was enough for me to recognize most of the theories being put into play. Theories the authors skillfully weave into a rather exciting and mind-blowing adventure through time and space. Add to those the fictional science, plausibly executed and well-thought out, and you have yourself a solid and interesting sci-fi.
Now, sci-fi isn’t all about the science (fiction or otherwise). It’s also about the people and the struggle. Readers of sci-fi aren’t in it to read textbook accounts of genetic manipulations, wormholes, and space travel. There has to be something that connects on a personal level. I think this book nails it. We have the main character, Richard Johnson, ex-marine (stuck on the band because he was more of a danger to himself than the enemy), taking college classes perpetually to get out of choosing a path for himself, crushing on his set theory teacher, and enduring an uneasy alliance with his landlady’s ancient dog, Khan. He’s a mess, but he’s relatable. I loved Richard in this story. His personality really comes through in the writing. He’s the unlikely hero facing insurmountable odds in a game where the stakes affect all of humanity, and it works.
The humor is also fantastic. The dog’s my favorite, but also the awkwardness of Richard. And, I won’t give details, but I love how the story wraps up. It left me with a smile and a laugh. But it’s not all funny, this story is scary, too. If you’ve ever watched the Langoliers, you’ll likely be able to imagine one of the creatures quite vividly. It’s not a copy, but it’s close enough. It almost made me jump. The authors are really good and giving just enough foreshadowing to let you know something’s going to happen, if you’re paying attention. The creature in the shadows, the sound in the night. Are they there? Are they imagination? Yikes, it had me on edge.
As for the romance, there was a little bit, but it was clean and sweet. Richard’s crush is not the main focus of the book, but it is integral to the characterizations of both him and his companions. I liked how he worries about catching the attention of the girl, while being faced with aliens bent on the destruction of mankind. It’s very human.
So, overall, I loved this book. In fact, although I just finished it, I’m reading it again. I don’t do that often. I highly recommend this book to fans of sci-fi with elements of real and fictional science presented in a plausible manner. I also think folks who like an adventure with a bit of romance, time travel and aliens will dig this story. There are elements of humor, thrills, excitement and terror. It’s quite a package.
The review copy of this book was supplied via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.