You’d be forgiven for initially thinking that The Last Boy and Girl in the World is a dystopia – a town that’s slowly going underwater sounds rather post-apocalyptic. However, this is in fact a contemporary novel, set in the town of Aberdeen (somewhere in the US, not Scotland, which had me a tad confused at first until I figured it out!) that due to a combination of environmental and human factors is subject to heavy rainfall and excessive flooding that will soon render it uninhabitable.
The novel centers around the varying reactions of the small-town inhabitants to their more-than-likely homelessness and forced relocation, as seen through the eyes of Keeley, our protagonist. She’s the kind of character who’s usually relegated to the role of sidekick in most contemporaries – somewhat over-the-top, a girl who masks her serious feelings under the guise of frivolity, dramatics and fun. Which can get a bit tiring and frustrating to read about at times, especially when she doesn’t react appropriately to situations, but is also understandable – her quests to try cheer others up and ignore the bad things for as long as possible is just a part of her personality.
As battle lines are drawn and the people of Aberdeen stake their positions on whether to accept resettlement offers or stick it out in their beloved town, Keeley must deal with strained friendships, changing family dynamics and living it up in the little time they have left with her long-time crush. Of course, our MC’s method of dealing with the tough stuff comes back to bite her in a bad way, and she’s left to try and repair everything she’s managed to break.
While the book was easy to read, it didn’t particularly engage me. I did feel that the middle dragged on for a little too long, while the ending was fairly abrupt, and I could have done with less of the Jesse-and-Keeley love saga. That said, the slow meltdown of a lifetime friendship was quite interesting to witness, however, and while Keeley’s happy-go-lucky nature can be grating, she’s also a character you can’t help but root for.
ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.