In last year’s first volume of Last Pick, we encountered an earth under occupation by aliens who dragged anyone deemed “useful” away to an unknown fate, leaving the very young, very old, and disabled to endure the aliens’ cruel rule on earth. Sam and Wyatt, twin siblings, were separated when Sam was taken; Wyatt, her special needs brother, was left behind, and has since gone to work embedding himself with a resistance group of survivors: the very young, the very old, the disabled, the angry, the fed-up. Operating under moniker “Bird One” they find ways to throw casual little wrenches into the aliens’ day-to-day operations, and have something bigger in the works. Meanwhile, Sam is laboring offworld with the other imprisoned humans, forced into terrorizing other alien races in their overlords’ quest to rule. The only bright spot in her days is Mia, a fellow prisoner, whom Sam finds herself developing feelings for.
Most of this installment’s story works with Sam and his resistance group, including his own crush, a deaf girl named Harper, and a burgeoning alliance with one of the aliens. The aliens here are cruel, yet amusing because they’re so influenced by American pop culture, particularly Westerns. (Interesting: Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Osama bin Laden all loved American Westerns. Coincidence?) The resistance is ragtag, but never count anyone out: it’s the aliens’ overconfidence and belief that the survivors are “useless” that leaves them ripe for a butt-kicking by Bird One. Jason Walz is a solid storyteller, continuing to build on the world(s) he created in the Last Pick’s volume one. The storyline stays strong, developing characters introduced in the first book and bringing in new characters. There are unexpected alliances and underdog heroes, with something to appeal to everyone.
Both volumes in the Last Pick trilogy have starred reviews from Kirkus. Sci-fi fans, dystopian fans, and adventure fans will love this story.