Plot Summary: Yorick and his pet Ampersand are the last two living males on Earth. The book begins with a scene of all of the men in the world coughing up blood and collapsing. It seems that the apocalypse has fallen upon Earth and Yorick has to find out why is happened and how he and his male monkey survived. Further complicating matters, Yorick's long distance girlfriend is across the world in Australia. Yorick will have to venture through an apocalyptic wasteland populated only by women to reach his girlfriend and hopefully solve the mystery as well.
Critical Analysis: Vaughan's graphic novel is one of the first in the 2000s to be a truly amazing tale told with no superheroes whatsoever. Since Sandman told a decidedly superhero-averse tale, Vertigo has taken many chances on different types of stories. Thankfully they chose to publish this one, it is one of the best science fiction stories I've read, graphic novel or not.
Vaughan peppers Yorick's dialogue with clever pop culture references that give the book a modern feel. Unlike many melodramatic graphic novels that try to play up every emotion a character has, Y the Last Man has a much more subtle foreboding feel that permeates the entire series. Vaughan's superb writing and Guerra's intense attention to character detail to show the passing of time make this series unlike any other.
Y the Last Man's plot is well-written enough that it feels like Yorick and company always have a purpose. Each issue puts pieces of the mystery into place or takes some out of the equation. Vaughan does a great job of tantalizing the readers with the mysteries of the world, but never making it seem like he's dangling a proverbial carrot in front of the reader's mouths to keep them reading. Vaughan very smartly ended Y the Last Man at fifty issues, or ten trades. No more, no less. The characters will never be revisited. In a world of superhero rebirths and reboots, it's refreshing to read an open and closed series that ends satisfyingly.
Reader's Annotation: Yorick and his pet monkey ampersand are the only males left living on Earth. They'll have to journey across a post apocalyptic world to find the answer.
Author Information: Brian K. Vaughan is a popular comics author who has also done work on Runaways and Pride of Baghdad. He also helped write for television on NBC's Lost.
Genre: science fiction, graphic novel, post apocalypse
Curriculum Ties: N/A
Booktalking Ideas: Will the mystery ever be answered or will it all be red herrings? Would it be more satisfying to have a specific answer or not?
What is the significance of Yorick's name?
Interest level/Reading age: 16 to adult
Challenge Issues: nudity, violence
Challenge Defense Ideas: Become familiar with the book, keeping the challenge issues in mind. Refer to the library's collection development policy here. If possible, find other opinions from reviews, recommendations, or others who have read the book.
Why I included this title: Y the Last Man is one of the best graphic novel series I've read in years. It is compelling to the point that I read three or four trades in a night. Sandman is unique has appeal to both male and female readers and I think this series can be put in the same category. It's also a great series to start on for those unfamiliar with graphic novels as a medium.