Published by Zephyr, an imprint of Head of Zeus, 2022.
Set in the past, present and future, The Last Whale is the story of three generations of the Kristensen family and their transition from whale hunters to conservationists. It’s an expertly plotted, character-driven story with a hugely powerful environmental message and taut action scenes. I was gripped.
Abi is a tech geek and environmental activist campaigning against global warming. She is staying with extended family in Norway. While there, she learns more about the plight of the world’s whales and becomes determined to save them. With the help of Moonlight, Abi’s stolen AI device, they uncover whale song recordings made by Abi’s great-grandfather and decipher a pattern. The songs are a map to a future that could rescue the whales and save the planet.
There’s so much I loved about this story! The connectedness of generations is a powerful thread running throughout the book. Abi finds unexpected common ground with her great-grandfather as she learns how everything isn’t always black and white, and that we can’t necessarily judge actions of the past by today’s knowledge and understanding. The book celebrates female familial bonds; I particularly enjoyed the inter-generational relationship between Abi and her Bestemor (grandmother). Bestemor is probably my favourite character – straight-talking, perceptive and wise. Abi learns so much from her. The bond between sisters Abi and Tig is powerfully and realistically depicted too.
It was fascinating to learn more about whales: I certainly had no idea about the hugely significant part they play in carbon capture: lose the whales and we lose the planet and all human life. The exploration of advanced artificial intelligence was also really eye-opening and added another dimension to the book.
Most significant of all is the book’s hard-hitting environmental message. Chris Vick makes the fragility of our ecosystem perfectly clear and highlights the interdependence of all species on the planet. The Last Whale is a powerful environmental call to arms and an exciting, thought-provoking book.
Suitable for children aged 8+
Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me this book to review.
Another fantastic sounding book as well as a bit terrifying – we are close to losing the whales.
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I know. It really is a stark and frightening message.
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