Chris Vick talks about the Inspiration for the book
THE LAST WHALE is an action-packed adventure story, focusing on fierce eco warrior and tech geek, Abi, who steals an AI computer, Moonlight. Together they work to save the whales: When they uncover whale song recording made by Abi’s great- grandfather, a whale hunter, they discover a pattern. The songs are a map to a future that could rescue the whales and save the planet.
When I’m not being a writer I work for Whale and Dolphin Conservation (whales.org) and there we are looking at the role whales play in the ecosystem and how important they are in carbon cycling. We need whales! They can help us stop global warming. So that was the key inspiration for the book. But the story also came from my own family, as I’m half Norwegian with whaling ancestors. And I’ve been inspired by the young generation of eco activists too, like Greta.
Writing about the natural world, the ocean and the planet comes naturally, I feel I don’t have a choice and I need nature and especially the ocean, in my life. Writing is a great way of accessing all that, when I’m away from the sea. Why? Perhaps because I feel most alive in nature and in the sea, and therefore I value such things and therefore I am prepared to fight to keep them healthy and sustainable. But it’s not a worthy or selfless thing, it’s actually driven by desire and need. At least that’s how it feels.
The moment I started reading this book I was transfixed by the beautifully written, poignant, and highly significant story that was unfolding before me. I got through coffee, chocolate, and many other snacks as I became invested in Abi’s story, and then that of her daughter, and granddaughter too. I found I had read into the early hours of the next day, and begrudgingly peeled myself away from The Last Whale until the morning when I finished the book. I was glad the conclusion of this book did the story the justice it rightly deserves, and didn’t disappoint, which is something I can consistently say about this book from the get go. It is a must read, and I highly recommend you doing so.
The larger part of the book is assigned to the character Abi, who is a self indulgent teenager that has been excluded from school, and is fixated on using the AI tech she has been loaned through winning a competition to promote messages of earth conservation to the world, which is something she is passionate about, she even has a tattoo reflecting this, but has managed to keep this detail from her parents for now!
Abi and her family have taken a holiday to visit family in Norway, on a derelict little island away from technology and civilisation. The one thing that really excites Abi upon arriving is news of Whales due to pass their location imminently. It is magical when it happens, but Abi gets carried away in the moment, and endangers both hers and her little sister Tigs life in the process. Abi’s affinity to these majestic ocean mammals begins in that moment, and is further fuelled with news of her great-grandfather’s mission to bring awareness of the importance of whales to the world, all evidence of which she discovers in the family’s hut on their adjacent island. Abi is determined to use her tech knowledge combined with her great-grandfather’s research to get the message out to the world, and has her little sister and her grandma helping her to do so.
The AI tech Abi took to Norway becomes her biggest asset for all the right reasons, and it becomes more and more independent to anyone controlling its capabilities, but never deviates from its loyalty to Abi, and the animal conservation work she has unwavering passion for seeing through to success. Tig names the AI Moonlight, which is such a fitting name, and as Abi’s central role in The Last Whale ends Moonlight has evaded capture from the tech company that created it, and found a secluded island complete with lighthouse, and waits there in hopes that Abi will find her, and they will continue their efforts upon reuniting.
The second instalment in this stellar story is that of Abi’s daughter, Tonje. Shorter in content but containing just as much importance in her role to seeing her mother’s legacy be a lasting one, before it really is too late. We find out that Abi and her daughter Tonje have been surviving on the island Midnight arrived on, and that every aspect of the island has been utilised to benefit the survival of Mother and Daughter. This section of the book really resonates with you as a reader when you see how little the pair need in order to be happy, surviving in harsher conditions then anywhere else, and even utilising waste as part of their existence, so why does the human race survive in present times with such greed for more then could be deemed essential? Tonje finds a washed up young lad, similar in age to her, and through his arrival she learns of refugees struggling to find safe passage to the country of their choice, and her disappointment and confusion in humanity is palpable.
The pair help Moonlight to seek out the potential last whale, and the whale song it sings goes unanswered, so Moonlight comes up with a plan to ascertain if there are more whales left, and if so where. Disrupting the noise polluting the ocean through manufacture, defence, and recreation is easy for Moonlight to achieve, as she has advanced beyond the expectations of her AI capabilities, propelled by a determination that echoes that of Abi and Tonje.
The final chapter in this book is about Tonje’s daughter, Astrid. Her struggles for survival are evident from the get go, with Moonlights technology being the primary means of survival in a barren existence, with extreme weather, and oxygen levels lacking. The impact on the decline in whale numbers is evident to see as 7yr old Astrid is growing up.
Five generations of one family feature within this book, from Abi’s great grandfather through to Astrid, and with each generation the struggle and fight for survival parallels that of the whales. The significance of the potential last whale that Tonje discovers being that of a white whale her great great grandfather recorded all those years ago is not lost on the reader, and replicates Abi’s existence, struggling with asthma her entire life, and her solo mission to bring whales to the forefront of every humans thoughts and respective actions. This is in essence a story of two species, interwoven with one another, with their survival when facing extinction dependent on one another, and it is told in such a compelling way, with the interwoven technology and modern day aspects making this an appealing read to the newest generation of chapter book readers who need to take the significant message imbedded in this book away with them, to protect the whales. There are resource links at the end of the book to assist this.
If you love Hannah Gold’s books you will absolutely want to read The Last Whale by Chris Vick, and vice versa. I support the conservation of Whales via the WWF, and will be looking for other ways to help them too following this absolute treasure of a read, which is one I will treasure forever.
When I first heard about the Book, I was really interested in finding out more, myself and my family are very much into protecting the environment and planet.
We recycle everything we can and we have managed to get to the stage where we only put our black rubbish bin out every 6 weeks.
But not everyone is like us, so this is where books like this can be used to get the message across.
When children can see themselves in a book then hopefully, they will copy the characters lead.
The main character in this book Abi, is a powerful one. She believes in protecting the environment and has gone as far as getting a tattoo in support of this cause.
When staying with family in Norway and with the help of a stolen device they uncover whale song recordings made by her whale hunting great grandfather.
This is an extremely important book that deserves to be read by as many people as possible.
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