The Last Book in the Universe

The Last Book in the Universe

"The Last Book in the Universe" (2000) is a science fiction novel by Rodman Philbrick. Set in a cyberpunk dystopia, its protagonist and narrator is a teenage boy named Spaz who suffers from epilepsy.

Plot summary

The story is set in a future world which has been disturbed by an earthquake known as "The Big Shake". The only place where people can apparently live happily is called Eden, but only the Genetically Improved (known as "Proovs") are permitted to live there. Eden is like the world that we live in now with trees and sky. The Urb is mostly grey and has few other colors.The Colors include gray

The story begins with Spaz discussing his adventures with an old man called Ryter, a young boy called Little Face, and a young Proov girl named Lanaya. Spaz is about 14 years old, but his adoptive family has abandoned him due to his epilepsy. Spaz's adoptive father, Charly, kicked Spaz out of the family to keep him away from Charly's real daughter, Bean. Spaz receives a message from Bean, via a latch runner, which tells him that she is very sick with "The Blood Sickness", known today as leukemia, and that she wants to see him before she dies.Spaz runs errands for the leader/boss of his "latch", the section of land that has been divided up and is controlled by a boss.The "latch boss" is Billy Bizmo. On one of his errands, he meets Ryter, who possesses the rare talent of reading and writing. He also meets "Little Face," a five year old orphan with no one to care for him. At this point, it is revealed that there is no education nor government in the book. At first, Spaz is very hostile towards Ryter. Eventually, Ryter and Little Face accompany Spaz on his journey. Little Face is a five year old boy who follows Spaz around because he gave him a ChoxBar chocolate bar. It starts by traveling through a large, broken water pipe which functioned before the Big Shake.

Along the way, they pass through many different latches and leaders. It also becomes apparent how fun life is focused solely on the pleasures derived from using mindprobes. When they finally reach the end of the pipe, they arrive in an area which is entirely engulfed in flames (using the magnitude of fire and smoke described in the book, one can almost certainly say that is it caused by a radioactive fire. This suggests that a nuclear powerplant was at one time in this area.) Lanaya is attacked by people wanting food, and is rescued by Spaz and Ryter. They start traveling towards the latch where Bean lives and later to Eden (apparently fashioned after the Garden of Eden, in the Bible). Bean is collected (with difficulty because Lotti Getts, the leader of the latch, and a smuggler, Vida Bleek, interfere) and off to Eden they go. The group of Lanaya, Spaz, Ryter, and Little Face use a takvee, a truck that is generally used to transport Proovs around in the latch, for transport on their way to Eden. During their journey, they must travel over land mines which are automatically deactivated by the takvee while driving through the field. Once the group reached Eden, they arrive at Lanaya's contributors', or parents', house.

At this point in the novel, it is shown that Lanaya is a special proov, and has rights and privileges that others do not. They take Bean to one of the special hospitals and she is cured of her sickness using genetic surgery. Soon after, the group of Ryter, Spaz, and Bean are thrown out of Eden because the elders who rule over Eden (and apparently what is left of the world) decide they are unacceptable, and Little face is secretly adopted by Lanaya's contributors. When they are back in the latch, Bean is deposited at her home, and Ryter and Spaz are left back in theirs. Ryter is then killed because of a dispute over the mindprobes. Spaz is told that he is the last book in the universe, because he holds the knowledge of presence and what-the-not. Billy Bizmo, the leader of Spaz's latch, tells Spaz that he is his father and that his mother died at his birth.

The story ends with Lanaya sending Spaz a message about how its getting better and how she believes they can fix it all in time. In turn, Spaz becomes Ryter by continuing his work by becoming the last book in the universe.


Mindprobes are a type of trip you go in your mind in the book which is somewhat comparable to virtual reality. People "probe" themselves by sticking an electrode needle in their heads and using a machine to shoot the probe program into their brain. Due to his epilepsy, Spaz is one of the few people who can't probe. Not wanting to leave the dreamworld which the probe provides, some users stay in the world forever (although the probes are not designed for this and cause serious side effects. Probes that last longer without damaging the user are expensive) and rot in their own filth, an example of this being the former Latch Boss, Mongo the Magnificent who died of his own mistake.

Mindprobes are a source of controversy in the book. It is revealed that the probes are being distributed from Eden in an effort to "dumb-down" the people living in latches, supposedly answering Eden's minance. A Proov from Eden, Lanaya's father, agrees with the characters' idea that this is an attempt to make the normal humans easier to exterminate, the reason that they were a reminder of what they themselves used to be. Lanaya speaks out their suspicion at a trial, and the leaders of Eden disable all mindprobes as a result. Meanwhile, Ryter and Spaz are banished from Eden and return to Ryter's house. Ryter is killed soon afterwards in a gang attack, triggered by the disabled mindprobes.When mindprobes take control it is hard to stop or to get rid of them.

Possible live adaption

Rodman Philbrick has expressed an interest in a live adaptation of "The Last Book of the Universe".In fact on the February issue of wizard an interview with J.K. Rowling,and Steven Spielberg has shown interest of directing a live movie of "The Last Book in the Universe".


“Do not despair, my friend. Today is theirs, but the future is ours .” -Lanaya

"The only real treasure is in your head. They are memories and no one can steal them from you." -Ryter

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