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Brian K. Vaughan – Y: The Last Man, Vol. 9: Motherland & Vol. 10: Whys and Wherefores

August 18, 2010

94. Y: The Last Man, Vol. 9: Motherland by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, Goran Sudzuka, José Marzán, Jr. (2007)
Y: The Last Man, Volume 9

Length: 144 pages

Genre: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Started / Finished: 12 August 2010

Where did it they come from? The library.
Why do I have them? Had to find out how it ends!

Summary: Yorrick & Co. head to China, following Dr. Mann’s mother, and finally learn what – and who – is responsible for the plague that wiped out the male half of humanity. There are also two one-offs, in which we get a little more about Yorrick’s mother, and learn what ultimately happened to the Fish & Bicycle Theater Company.

Review: Really? REALLY?!? The entire Y: The Last Man series is based on one very cool premise: what would happen if a mysterious plague instantaneously wiped out every male mammal on Earth? While the series has mostly focused on the social rather than the biological implications of the plague, it is science fiction, and they were going to have to get around to giving us an explanation eventually. I spent the past eight volumes dreaming up cool backstories, and when we finally get there, all I get is *this*?!? A lot of pseudoscientific ramblings about morphogenetics and ecological balance, and misuse of the term “evolution” so many times it made my teeth hurt? It’s a shame, too, because there was so much potential, and with a few tweaks it could have been really cool, instead of something that made the biologists in the audience die a little inside.

Oh, and some stuff happened that wasn’t immediately related to biology. Those parts were all quite good, as usual. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: If you’ve come this far in the series, you have to keep reading to know how it all goes down, but be prepared for the explanations you have in your head to be much more interesting and plausible than the real thing.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

First Line: “I’m coming for you, Beth!”

95. Y: The Last Man, Vol. 10: Whys and Wherefores by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, José Marzán, Jr. (2008)
Y: The Last Man, Volume 10

Length: 168 pages

Summary: All of our main players converge on Paris, where Yorrick is at long last reunited with his girlfriend Beth, and after four long years, finally sees the woman he loves. But whether or not he’ll get to live happily ever after is still an open question, as is whether or not the human race will find a way to survive past the current generation.

Review: As a whole, this series does a really excellent job of looking at gender issues from a fair and balanced position, and without any overt sexism. Still, every now and again, there’s a moment where something one of the characters does or says makes you sit back and go “Wow, this was obviously written by a guy.” This last volume in the series doesn’t contain any more of these moments than previous volumes, necessarily, but the ones it does contain were jarring enough to really set me aback, and make me wonder if they were really necessary plot-wise.

While the plot of this volume is mostly wrapping up loose ends, there are some really excellent character moments. I’ve really enjoyed the series, but I didn’t think it was something in which I was particularly emotionally involved, but this installment proved me wrong. The glimpse of the future we get at the end of the story was also totally fascinating, and well in keeping with the tone set by the rest of the series, although I will say that for someone as smart as she is, Dr. Mann is remarkably ill-informed about population genetics. Overall, very enjoyable, and a fitting if not 100% satisfactory end to a very interesting series. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I initially thought it was weird to solve all of your plot’s mysteries in the penultimate volume, but there’s enough story left over to make this volume feel complete, and a good end to a great series.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

First Line: “Well, that’s unexpected.”

Other Reviews: Have you reviewed either of these books? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2010 8:50 am

    Oh, dear, it’s always a shame when an author has failed to do some basic reasonable research in your area of interest. I get completely cross when someone screws up something about Oscar Wilde, or Latin, that they could have found out by opening one book or asking one scholar. (Which, um, may not be the case here.)

  2. August 25, 2010 9:18 am

    Jenny – I think this was more of a case of them doing enough research to come up with something that would sound plausible to the average reader, but not enough research to convince an actual biologist.

  3. September 8, 2010 9:11 am

    I read the entire series almost a year ago and remembered liking most of it, especially the beginning volumes and the conclusion. It seemed like there was no clear reason why the Y chromosome folks actually died, just speculation of 3 or 4 possibilities. Regardless, I liked your review.

    You can read my review of the entire series here if you’d like.

    • September 8, 2010 9:51 am

      Logan – Thanks for the link; I agree that the weakest volumes were after the halfway point. Although I interpreted Vol. 9 a little more definitively than you did – I thought the origins of the plague were explained pretty clearly, if not entirely biologically satisfactorily.

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