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The Last Child: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 2016
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Winner of the 2010 Edgar Award for Best Novel
John Hart's New York Times bestselling debut, The King of Lies, announced the arrival of a major talent. With Down River, he surpassed his earlier success, transcending the barrier between thriller and literature and winning the 2008 Edgar Award for best novel. Now, with The Last Child, he achieves his most significant work to date, an intricate, powerful story of loss, hope, and courage in the face of evil.
Thirteen year-old Johnny Merrimon had the perfect life: a warm home and loving parents; a twin sister, Alyssa, with whom he shared an irreplaceable bond. He knew nothing of loss, until the day Alyssa vanished from the side of a lonely street. Now, a year later, Johnny finds himself isolated and alone, failed by the people he'd been taught since birth to trust. No one else believes that Alyssa is still alive, but Johnny is certain that she is---confident in a way that he can never fully explain.
Determined to find his sister, Johnny risks everything to explore the dark side of his hometown. It is a desperate, terrifying search, but Johnny is not as alone as he might think. Detective Clyde Hunt has never stopped looking for Alyssa either, and he has a soft spot for Johnny. He watches over the boy and tries to keep him safe, but when Johnny uncovers a dangerous lead and vows to follow it, Hunt has no choice but to intervene.
Then a second child goes missing . . .
Undeterred by Hunt's threats or his mother's pleas, Johnny enlists the help of his last friend, and together they plunge into the wild, to a forgotten place with a history of violence that goes back more than a hundred years. There, they meet a giant of a man, an escaped convict on his own tragic quest. What they learn from him will shatter every notion Johnny had about the fate of his sister; it will lead them to another far place, to a truth that will test both boys to the limit.
Traveling the wilderness between innocence and hard wisdom, between hopelessness and faith, The Last Child leaves all categories behind and establishes John Hart as a writer of unique power.
This edition of the book is the deluxe, tall rack mass market paperback.
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About the Author
- Publisher : Minotaur Books (March 1, 2016)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 576 pages
- ISBN-10 : 031238033X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0312380335
- Item Weight : 10.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.32 x 1.29 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,475,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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The character development was amazing. The author made it easy to visualize them, their expressions, voices and mannerisms - to love them or hate them or feel sorry for them. I LOVE that about an author! I struggled with the setting. I'm from very rural New Hampshire and have never been to the Carolinas. But I've been to northwest Georgia so I used a little town there as my Last Child town. I assumed the story was set in a small town, until later in the book the multi-level mall, hospital, large police station, etc revealed it as a small or midsize city. I had to readjust my town setting a few times. Hush Arbor and Johnny's journey to it was perfect though. I could see every track, swamp, river and trail (I suppose easier because the landscape was familiar to my own region - I'm surrounded by bear trails, swamps, dirt roads, and meadows in the middle of deep woods).
At first I was a bit let down by the ending but the writer skillfully and nicely lifted me up. The ending was beautiful. It leaves the reader with a sense of hope and rightness and that is exactly how I love stories to end. I also loved how the writer stayed neutral about politics. He didn't have an agenda. So many authors nowadays use their stories to attack certain religions or political parties. (I stopped reading Stephen King novels entirely several years ago because of this. It is just childish, shortsighted, and boring!). Hart's writing sees the good and bad in all people, of all backgrounds and beliefs. It goes to a deeper level. I really enjoyed and appreciated that.
This story HAUNTED me when I wasn't reading it. I read mostly at night because it makes me sleepy. The Last Child did make me sleepy but then I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it, debating whether to stay up and read more, then cursing that it was keeping me awake! :D That has never happened to me with any other story. THAT is GOOD writing! I have already purchased The Hush and can't wait to begin!
This is a very unique thriller in that a child is in essence the hero.
The many varied characters were rewarding and the plot twist excellent. I look forward to more of John Hart
Understandably, Johnny remains obsessed with finding his sister. Unlike the adults, he can still operate under the illusion that everything would go back to the way it was if only he could find her. It's refreshing though, to see his determination in the face of the adults wallowing in self pity and self destructive behavior. Things begin to get very interesting, very quickly when another girl disappears and the plot doesn't slow down for the rest of the book.
The Last Child is rare in that it both creates very real characters in rich detail and is heavy with plot twists. It is even more rare in that it does both throughout the book. Hart wonderfully captures the semi-rural county in the NC sand hills the books takes place in. The use of multiple POVs better exposes the motivations and emotional damage of the characters. Hart does particular well with the difficult task of putting the reader inside the head of a very emotionally damaged boy. He does all of this while constantly yanking the plot in a different direction as new events take place and new clues are uncovered.
Unfortunately, it is this very strength that ultimately detracts from the book. Hart goes so far to hint at so much that the final reveal is forced to be less salacious than hinted at in order to be surprising. It also happens more as a matter of coincidence than due to the actions of the characters. It works on one level in that it encourages us to think more deeply about the characters and provides some deeper meaning but is a bit weak as a plot twist.
Top reviews from other countries
This is not a new theme but John Hart gives the story a Southern Gothic twist that makes it feel fresh and exciting. His prose style is as rich as Stephen King's: one suspicious local man "was sixty-eight, with bristled hair, two loose teeth and eyes like raw oysters." There's a riverside cemetery scene with an atmosphere that calls Charles Dickens to mind. The suspense builds to a vivid, visceral climax that tears at your heart strings.
Hart is a real find. Thrillers don't come any better than this. I can't wait to read the next one.
[Reviewer is the auithor of THE BEXHILLMISSILE CRISIS]
An intricate, painful story about a 12 year old girl, Alyssa, disappearing into thin air. Her twin brother Johnny, now 13, never stops looking for her, tries to keep strong, although his world has been shattered to say the least: his father left soon after the abduction and his mother is so anguished and upset that she cannot but hide from the world in a sort of catatonic state. Most times, she does not even realize Johnny is around. Detective Hunt, who has been following the case since it started, is still obsessed and frustrated by the lack of news and he is the only person who looks out for Johnny and tries to keep him out of trouble. Then bad news happen again: another girl disappears from the area...
This book has all the qualities a good thriller should have: edge-of-the-seat suspense, a good psychological insight about all the characters, conveying their feelings perfectly, heart wrenchingly at times, an unexpected epilogue and all loose ends become clear. My only criticism: a bit far-fetched in some of the situations involving Johnny and his personal search for his sister, not entirely believable for a 13 year-old in my opinion. However, a very good thriller nevertheless and quite a page-turner.