The Last Orphans by N. W. Harris

The Last Orphans



We first meet sixteen-year-old Shane just after his grandmother’s funeral. He is there with his father and his father’s lady friend. On their way home Shane and his dad have a falling out – complete with a yelling match – which ends when Shane gets out of the car and his father drives away. Spotting an approaching storm, Shane decides his grandmother’s farmhouse is closer than trying to walk home and he sets off that way. That is the last normal thing that happens in this story.


On his way to grandmother’s farmhouse, Shane notices that all is not right with nature. There are animals and insects that begin to act strangely. When he passes by the farm of Kelly and her sister Natalie, he sees them in tears. Secretly he has been in love with 17 year old Kelly and welcomes the opportunity to help her. She tearfully tells him that her parents are dead – killed by their own cattle. Both Shane and Kelly think the cattle were spooked because of the approaching storm and feel it has something to do with the green color of the approaching clouds. Together they head off down the road and are met by Shane’s aunt who is also on the way to grandmother’s house. They youngsters climb into the car and just as they are about to make it to safety the car is attacked by a swarm of angry bees – the ultimate result being that Shane’s aunt dies a very unpleasant death while he and the two girls are left untouched.


The story follows the youngsters as they meet up with several others at the local school. Seems that only children (18 and younger) are left alive. All the adults are dead. We are left with the questions: what happened? why are only the adults killed? and will the same happen to the children eventually?


I found the premise engaging at first but the reveal of the cataclysmic event causing all of this took a long time in coming. We spend a lot of time trying to get inside Shane’s mind as he deals with loss after loss before the conclusion of the story. The action is quick paced. The characters are well drawn. However, the story wasn’t enough to captivate me into not setting the book down. I half expected to meet a few zombies. I don’t think this story is well suited to youngsters under 14.