Author Katherine Applegate, who gave us such stories as the Animorph series, Crenshaw, and The One and Only Ivan; just to name a few. Has blessed the world with the first gripping installment in a new fantasy trilogy, Endling: The Last. The narrative presents an assembly of a rather motley crew, trapped in a suspenseful drawn quest. Centering on Byx, the curious and youngest in the litter at 11 years-old of a nearly extinct governing species known as Dairnes – a highly intelligent, doglike, anthropomorphic creature who can talk, walks upright, can glide, and has the dangerous gift of being able to discern any lie. When Byx ventures beyond the safety of the pakc's carefully hidden home, she finds herself the savior to a humorously polite creature, a Wobbyk named Tobble.

They both work to keep hidden from hunters intent on harming them as they make their way back to the packs home. A 14 year-old tracker named Khara, whom is often disguised as a boy, saves them from meeting the same fate as Byx is pack. The slaughter of her community leaves her the last of her kind, an endling. Khara takes the grieving Byx and the silly Tobble to an island city to consult a scholar whom Khara trusts and believes will protect them. The motivations and strong, persuasive, emotional convictions of the presented characters'; give a depth and sense of urgency to the adventure as the motley group team up with new allies – both anthropomorphic and humans – each with their own motivations for joining the quest. As Byx seeks to find a safe haven, and to see if the legends of her people are true; that there is a hidden Darines civilization to the North. Though they begin as strangers tangled in a web of survival, they become their own kind of family. One which will uncover a great secret which may in fact threaten the very existence of every anthropomorphic creature in their world.

Alright, so the book is meant for the 8 – 12 age range. But I myself, a man in his late 20's primarily reads Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Adam Nevill, and Clive Cussler (to name a few). Found this book and its story to be something I could not put down. Reading it in just a few days, I was absolutely absorbed into the story with rich and emotionally believable characters. When I find myself stopping mid paragraph to write down a quote, I know a book has truly grabbed me, and is something to learn from and share. Rarely does this happen with any genre or style of writing. One of my favorite quotes in the mentioned book, which I must admit I have started to use myself: p. 167: "…I recalled my father's words: to rush is not necessarily to arrive." Take a moment and read something outside your normal genre or style and you can be surprised by what you may find. With Endling: The Last, I know I sure was. Little did I know that the book I would randomly pickup just walking the isles in Barnes and Noble would be such a gripping read.

Amazon readers give this book an average of 5 out of 5 stars; Goodreads gives this a 4.5 out of 5 stars; Common sense media also gives a 5 out of 5 stars; While Barnes and Noble also gives a 5 out of 5 starts rating. I myself am excited to give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. There a few spelling and sentence mistakes that required me to re-read the sentence to understand what was being said. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to read something new and different as well as to kids and youth as it has a lot of powerful messages.