What’s it all about?:
Breaking: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington
Breaking: London hit, thousands feared dead
Breaking: Munich and Scotland hit. World leaders call for calm
Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilization, he wishes he had a way of knowing whether his wife, Nadia and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn’t ignored Nadia’s last message.
Twenty people remain in Jon’s hotel. Far from the nearest city and walled in by towering trees, they wait, they survive.
Then one day, the body of a young girl is found. It’s clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer.
As paranoia descends, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what kind of justice can he hope for, when society as he knows it no longer exists?
What did I think?:
This review comes with an enormous thank you to Viking, an imprint of Penguin Books who were very kind to send me a proof copy of this extraordinary novel in exchange for an honest review. I was actually supposed to attend the launch of this book in Shoreditch, London on Friday night but unfortunately due to some pesky snow affecting the rail network I was unable to get there. From what I’ve heard though, a great night was had and congratulations to the author and publisher on the recent release of this book.
Apart from being an aesthetically pleasing novel with some of the most gorgeous endpapers I think I’ve ever seen, I don’t think any fans of speculative or science fiction (with a remarkably realistic edge) could resist the pull of that glorious synopsis. I certainly couldn’t. Lucky for me the story inside the pages completely matched that stunning outside cover and I was hooked from page one with an endlessly fascinating plot and set of characters.
Hanna Jameson, author of The Last.
The Last is Jameson’s fourth novel after her debut, award-nominated novel, Something You Are and two further novels in the series, Girl Seven and Road Kill and even though I haven’t had the pleasure of exploring these works yet I can tell she is a writer to be reckoned with. The Last immediately pulls you in with its quirky first-person narration in the form of journal entries from historian Jon Keller and ensures you remain gripped with the discovery of a body in a Swiss hotel after a nuclear bombing that has devastated an unknown portion of the world.
It appears to span a mixture of genres from the Agatha Christie like murder mystery to a thrilling, almost dystopian end of the world scenario topped off with a unique, modern twist in terms of style and how the story is presented to the reader. There are a variety of interesting characters to get to grips with and in similarity to another novel I’ve read recently, not a single one of them are reliable or appear completely innocent which only heightens the drama and tension of the narrative.
Switzerland, a beautiful setting for a wonderfully gripping story.
I don’t believe I warmed to a single one of these characters – even Jon, our main protagonist and story-teller. However, I don’t think we were meant to. Each individual we meet within the hotel could have a reason for committing murder and although the reader is never told every single character’s circumstances in intimate detail, we are left with the air of mystery that makes us question whether it in fact, could have been them. I adore unlikeable characters, it’s always fantastic in my opinion to have an emotion connected to a person you’re reading about and if this emotion is a strong one, it’s the bait on the end of the line to keep you reading, desperate to know what’s going to happen with their story.
The scariest thing about this novel? Perhaps that it has the potential to actually happen with the management (or mis-management?) of nuclear weapons around the world at the moment, something I have very strong opinions on. It’s an event not entirely out of the realms of possibility and it really makes you think about how you would cope if you were in the position of being one of the survivors of a nuclear attack. More than that though, I feel the author wrote in a very insightful manner about how certain characteristics and behaviour would be forced to emerge if you were going to survive something like this. I know I certainly couldn’t be as ruthless and emotionless as some of the characters in this novel but it was really interesting to see how people coped, which personalities came to the forefront and how plans were made/roles were developed within a group to make the best of such a horrific situation.
After eager anticipation in waiting to read this novel, I’m delighted to say it didn’t disappoint. It gave me everything I wanted in terms of character, plot development, thrills and chills and unexpected incidents. I’ll certainly be checking out Hanna Jameson’s back catalogue of work and am excited to see what she’ll bring out next.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):