by Hanna Jameson
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?
Post-apocalyptic novels aren’t something I generally veer towards but there’s a certain fascination that I hold. I am not counting YA in this one because that’s a whole different kind of coffee that I am not prepared to touch at this moment. I have been meaning to read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel for almost a year now and I haven’t even gotten around to buying the bloody thing but I did manage to read The Book of M by Peng Shepherd and Severance by Ling Ma though and that was a wild ride.
So with a few people commenting on the somewhat similar approach towards this genre, I was expecting The Last to be more character centered than the actual apocalypse and thankfully, I was right.
The story starts with nuclear explosions happening all over America and then in other parts of the world, we are never really given a proper recount of what happened and the vagueness of it all really helped with the overall feeling of the book. Jon Keller is staying at a remote hotel when all of this happens and quite naturally, there’s chaos when these attacks happen and people slowly lose all connections to the rest of the world. Some people panic and leave the hotel and hope to reach the nearest mode of transport in order to reach their loved ones and some stay at the hotel. Jon is one of those people.
Jon and other occupants of the hotel are trying to survive in this new world by saving electricity/ generators, trying to keep track of everyone staying at the hotel and rationing the food and trying and mostly failing to hide the weapons and ammunition at the hotel. As the time passes and no news of the outside world comes to them, slowly, people start to lose hope and some of the people commit suicide. Preferring that over the inevitable terrible fate that awaits them.
All of it is presented in a sort of documented format as Jon notes down everything that happened since Day One of the nuclear attacks, then as time passed, he starts talking to other people and writes their stories too. He hopes that there will be someone after they have died to know about them. To know that they existed.
In all of this, there’s a murder mystery and that adds a little bit of spice to the whole story which otherwise could have suffered on its own. The hotel being remote and out of reach by normal means made the whole book a bit more creepier, then there was the fact that a girl child is found murdered which made it even more creepier.
The hotel itself is such an important part of the story because not only is it a thirteen floors building in which only a few rooms are occupied but its history is so very shady. Just imagine a big hotel empty except for a few occupants and then imagine walking through the empty hallways, yeah. It is creepy. The hotel remains one of my favourite parts of the book frankly. The whole aesthetic just added to the story.
The characters in the book including Jon are all with their own problems and quirks and bad habits and that made for an entertaining read. Jon is not a particularly likable character neither is he a reliable narrator. That made the whole thing muddier than it probably needed to be but it also made it a bit more realistic. After all, could you really be completely objective when noting down everything that happened after your world ended?
Now, the thing is, despite all those wonderful things I have about this book, the ending felt a bit rushed for me and somewhat unsatisfactory as well. I thoroughly enjoyed the creepiness of the hotel, the very real probability of this happening in near future and the fact that some people finally decided to try to see if there were more survivors or not but I wasn’t totally happy with the way things ended overall.
I gave it 3.75 stars and it totally deserves it, I think. It’s a pretty fun book to read if you are into post-apocalyptic world and a look at how the humanity can react to things afterwards. The Last releases on 31st January, 2019 and will be available to buy from wherever books are sold.