Endling #1: The Last by Katherine Applegate

In the first book of Applegate’s new middle grade series,  Endling #1: The Last, readers travel to Nederra, a world inhabited by not only humans but also other sentient animal species.  The main character, Byx is a dairne, one of the six great governing species of Nederra.  Dairies resemble dogs but can walk upright like humans. Because dairnes possess the unique ability to always detect an untruth, they don’t lie but they do sometimes hope.  Hope is crucial due to the fact that dairnes are becoming scarce in the land. While Byx is away from her family on an unsanctioned venture, she returns to find her entire pack slaughtered.  As a result, Byx realized that she may indeed be the endling, the last of her species.

Desperate to find the first colony of dairnes she heard about from her lessons, Byx embarks on an ambitious quest.  Fortunately, she is not alone, for she befriends Tobble, a wobbyk who is a loyal companion and becomes her best friend.  And note to self.  Wobbyks may appear small and meek but don’t ever get them mad.  While Byx struggles with the loss of her family, pack, and possibly species, she slowly begins to attract a new pack which includes members of other species from humans to Gambler, a felivet, a huge feline resembling a panther.

At the start of her journey, Byx comes to learn that “sometimes questions do not have answers and even when they are answers, they may not be what we want to hear.”  This realization becomes true when Byx and her new pack begin to uncover secrets that not only threatens the dairnes but also other species. While I was reading Endling the Last, I was truly transported to another place.  Applegate created an imaginative world that while fantasy, I was amazed how real the story felt.  It is not difficult to imagine one species attempting to gain control at the expense of another. It’s real life considering the number of species in danger of extinction.  This series can be a sliding glass door for young readers inspiring them to take action to help protect endangered species.

To find out about Katherine Applegate’s partnership with the Animal Welfare Institute, check out the video below.

Endling the Last is an epic tale of an underdog (no offense Byx) who always thought of herself as “too young to be clever and too small to be helpful.” Through her quest, Byx realizes an inner strength she never knew, family can extend beyond her own species, and while there may be danger ahead, “hope is the one thing that even heroes need in order to go forward.”  After reading the last page, all I can say is I can’t wait for Book 2.  Please tell me my wait won’t be long.

A very special thanks to Harper Stacks at Harper Collins for sending Endling the Last to my #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order now so that you can meet Byx and her pack on May 1, 2018.

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