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Summary of The Lastling (Novel) by Philip Gross

SCIS number1214995
ISBN9780192753830 ( 978-0-19-275383-0 )
Personal AuthorGross, Philip.
TitleThe lastling / Philip Gross.
Publication DetailsOxford : Oxford University Press, 2005.
Physical Description225 p.
SummaryAge 12+ The Lastling is a novel about loneliness, power and trust - and a chilling story of greed. Paris, lonely and neglected by her parents, is delighted to be invited on a trek to the Himalayas with her revered uncle Franklin and his friends. Her sense of excitement quickly changes to unease, when she discovers all is not quite what it seems. Under a thick cloak of secrecy, the group is hunting rare or endangered animals in order to eat them as part of their strange ‘Ultimate Diners Club’. Suddenly, Paris is exposed to an adult world of bizarre craving for power and control, which she is not quite ready to face:

‘Now, eat,’ said Franklin, with a glance at her. ‘And make sure you enjoy every last morsel. Because there’ll never be another like it. Literally. Isn’t that … exquisite?’


Into the camp arrives a lost, teenage monk (Tahr), who befriends Paris, inadvertently exposes the truth in the local myth of the yeh-teh (yeti) and suddenly the hunt is on for the ultimate diners club prize. When the yeh-teh is captured and held, Paris soon has more to face than a repulsive meal. The yeh-teh is so close to being human, for perhaps the first time, Paris is forced to look outside her protected and privileged life to another world and what day-to-day existence really means. Paris must decide whom she trusts and how much she is willing to risk for her very survival.

The story explores issues of growing up, what it means to be human, being accepted, loyalty, trust and the limits of acceptable behaviour. The novel deals with all these in ways that are subtle enough to engage teenagers, and obvious enough to convey some clear messages. The Lastling draws in the adolescent reader because it deals with themes of becoming independent, resolving conflict and accepting differences (by finding out about other people and places). There are opportunities to include elements of a broad range of learning areas and to explore a range of themes as mentioned above.

Characters are well drawn and at least two develop into rounded people, making this an ideal book for the exploration of character development and to examine themes in more depth. The reader is drawn to the mystery of the story and the motivation for the adult characters, as well as wondering what the outcome will be for Tahr, Paris and the yeh-teh. Due to the depth of the characters and the way the story unfolds, the novel could be used as a basis for journal entries, and perhaps even to introduce the concept of weblogs (as mentioned in Fiction Focus Vol. 19 (2) p. 4). It also provides good scope for prediction and analysis.

Based on the sophistication of the story and the development of the characters, the book would be best used in an upper primary or lower secondary class - where it would support a solid exploration of a range of narrative elements.

It's easy to be surrounded by people and yet feel alone, don't you think? And sometimes, because there are so many people, you don't really realize how alone you are. Paris is alone. Wealthy, spoilt and neglected by her parents, Paris worships her Uncle Franklin, and is thrilled to bits when he takes her off with him on one of his expeditions to the Himalayas, because with his contacts he can take them to places where tourists are usually excluded. Alarmingly, Franklin and his associates are hunting rare and endangered species, and while Paris is delighted to be invited along on equal terms, she is less delighted to be invited to join The Ultimate Diners:

'Now...' said Franklin, savouring the moment. 'Has anyone guessed? No? If I were to say Rhodenessa caryophyllacea?'
Donald's face lit up. 'Not... the pink-headed duck? Which is known to be extinct.'
'Believed to be extinct,' said Franklin. 'Last definitively sighted in 1935. But I have friends in the birdwatching world. There were rumours. I've invested quite a lot of money in tracking down these little beauties.'
'So they're not extinct at all,' said Paris.
Franklin laughed, quite gently, and the laughter rippled round the table, as the guests grasped the joke, one by one.

What kind of man is her Uncle Franklin? I think Paris is already beginning to ask herself that question when Tahr, a young Buddhist monk, younger than Paris, blunders into the camp in a distraught state. He's been practising a life of isolation, self-denial and meditation but he brings news of another endangered species, so rare that Franklin's associates might be forgiven for thinking it mythical.

The Yeh-teh. Have you heard of it? Sometimes we call it the Abominable Snowman: a large creature that walks upright, that lives somewhere in the remotest mountains of Tibet. Now here's a creature that knows how it feels to be alone. Geng-sun is the very last of her species, and she's only young, about the same age as Paris and Tahr, in fact.

Well, obviously, Franklin is going to want to find the Yeh-teh, but for what foul purpose exactly I hardly dare think. And here we have an extraordinary story about the power of friendship across cultural barriers as these three young people fulfil theiryearning need for companionship in the world's loneliest place. Did I just call Geng-sun, last of the Yeh-teh, a person? That's for you to decide really, as you ponder the story.

A beautiful and sensitive, haunting story that explores the most basic question of all: what is it that makes us human? Earnestly recommended.

Topical SubjectMythical animals - Fiction.
Topical SubjectAdolescents - Fiction.
Topical SubjectBushwalking - Fiction.
Topical SubjectMystery and suspense stories.
Geographic SubjectHimalaya Mountains - Fiction.
Phase of DevelopmentEarly Adolescence
Learning AreaEnglish
OutcomesReading [English]
OutcomesSpeaking [English]
OutcomesWriting [English]
OutcomesContextual Understandings [English]
OutcomesRespect and Concern for Others and Their Rights [Values]

7 comments:

Manahal said...

i checked out all of your blogs n i find this as the best one! i really like the background as red n black. keep going with your blogging. :)
manahal.

Ali Hamza said...

gud 1

dada said...

aby oh pagaL CHAP WISE TU LIKHTI

Rohma Anis said...

AAla yr but I agree with the prson above me tht ys u shud hav written it chaptr wise wrna its pretty cOol!!

Sofia said...

oh wow.. i accidently opened this :P

salman said...

It's too much boaring & ultimate dinner also

Shahzaib Akhtar Ali said...

.aby sale chapu, internet pe pehle result mei yeh hi sub likha hua hai, cheater saala

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