The Last Girl by Joe Hart is the first book in the Dominion Trilogy. This book is set in a future where the birth of female babies are becoming nonexistent. Zoey, the main character, tells the story from her point of view.
She lives in an armed compound with a small number of other girls. These girls were taken from their families in the outside world and transported to the “ARC” where they will be raised until their twenty-first birthdays. On that day the “lucky” girl is taken to what is referred to as “the safe zone” to be reunited with her parents.
When I began the book I thought Zoey would become the key to everything, and the National Obstetric Alliance and the ARC doctors would discover she was the only one that could produce a girl baby. While this may still prove to be the case, it is not broached in this first installment of the series.
The first half of the book describes what life inside the ARC is like. Zoey does not trust the director of the NOA or those in charge of the girls’ well-being. Things inside the compound are predictable and dull. Books are contraband, disagreement with the NOA is punished and each night the girls are locked in their rooms. Things begin to grow intense and dangerous as Zoey’s “induction,” or twenty-first birthday ceremony, draws near. Time is quickly counting down to her birthday and her resolve to do something is strengthened.
With the help of a sympathetic ARC resident, she begins to plan her escape. A horrible accident suddenly gives her the chance to get away, and she takes advantage of it.
The second half of the book follows the flight from the compound, journey after escape and attempt to remain free as the director and ARC guards continue to search for her. Zoey has stumbled into a world dangerous for anyone, but especially for a young woman. Most of the world is empty now except for roaming groups of men searching the corners of deserted places for any females still capable of giving birth. Zoey is on her own for the first time in her life, and has never had a reason to fend for herself before. After a harrowing adventure she meets a group of people willing to help her free those she had to leave behind in her mad-dash escape.
Spoiler alert: The book ends six weeks after the group’s rescue attempt, with Zoey wheelchair-bound.
The book is well-written and keeps you turning the pages as you say “just one more chapter.” While some of the things taking place in the book seem unrealistic, the sympathy you feel for the affected character causes you to suspend disbelief and accept the event as fact.
The book is a commentary on how something can seem like a small problem or unlikely to ever happen but can have a huge impact on the world as we know it. You also see how easily, in the midst of turmoil, a seemingly benevolent entity can assume huge amounts of power.
Joe Hart’s ending leaves you looking forward to the next book, The Final Trade, to find out if the “drought of female births” and the other unanswered questions will be resolved.