What Is the Theme of “The Last Book in the Universe”?

The themes of “The Last Book in the Universe” by Rodman Philbrick are friends and enemies, challenges and triumphs, generations and the individual versus society. The story also explores the relationship between nature and science, and adventure. The novel was published in 2000 under the genre of post-apocalyptic literature.

“The Last Book in the Universe” tells the story of a 14 year old boy named Spaz who lives in a future world where books and writing are outlawed. The people who populate the world of the story are addicted to mechanical devices called mind probes. These probes are inserted into the brain and are used to access virtual realities. Those who use mind probes eventually lose their memories and become detached from reality. Spaz has epilepsy and cannot use the mind probes like everyone else. This allows him to retain his memory. The driving force of the story is Spaz’s search for his dying sister, Bean. Along the way, Spaz be-friends an old man named Ryter who can read and write. Ryter reveals that he is writing a book. In the conclusion of the story, the pages of Ryter’s book are destroyed, but not before Spaz memorizes them. As Ryter is about to die, he tells Spaz that even though the physical pages are destroyed, Spaz has the story inside of him and is, therefore, the last book in the universe.