22 January 2019

The Last

Science Fiction

By Hanna Jameson

Paperback 352 pages
Publisher Penguin (3rd Oct 2019)
ISBN-13 978-0241983997

'Dark, original, compelling.' CJ Tudor, author of The Chalk Man

📕My Review

Stepping outside my comfort zone to read The Last, I was pleasantly surprised by how good it is. Not being a big fan of 'End Of The World' novels, I'd listened to the hype and really wanted to give this one a go. I was expecting hoards of post-apocalyptic scavengers (with a few zombies thrown in for good measure!). What I got was a very well-written and excellently plotted story of camaraderie and survival.
Jon Keller, an American, is attending a conference in Switzerland when the first nuclear bombs drop. Entire countries are being obliterated. Communications and the internet are down, leaving Jon no way of knowing if his wife and two kids back home are alive. He believes his best chance of survival is to remain at his hotel in the Swiss countryside, while what's left of society descends into chaos. 

When the body of a young girl is discovered in a water tank on top of the hotel, all evidence points towards murder. Jon uses his time to investigate and starts keeping a journal of his conversations with the other guests.

In the meantime, food and medical supplies are dwindling. The guests have no choice but to venture further afield into dangerous territory. Petty squabbles and power struggles take hold and Jon doesn't know who can be trusted and who can't.

The reader gets to know the characters as they're forced together in their battle for survival. They become suspicious of one another as their situation worsens. Politics and internal bickering threaten to tear them apart.

How can I sum this book up? It's certainly quite a mixed bag of themes! It's gripping and suspenseful; it shows peoples' darker sides; it paints a bleak picture of what the future could be; but it also offers a glimmer of hope for humanity. Oh, and there wasn't a single zombie in sight!     

My thanks to Hanna Jameson, Penguin (UK) and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book.

Barnsey's Books Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐

📗The Blurb

BREAKING: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington
BREAKING: London hit, thousands feared dead.
BREAKING: Munich and Scotland hit. World leaders call for calm.

Jon Keller was on a trip to Switzerland when the world ended. More than anything he wishes he hadn't ignored his wife Nadia's last message.

Twenty people remain in Jon's hotel. Far from the nearest city, they wait, they survive.

Then one day, the body of a 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 happens if the killer doesn't want to be found?

📘The Author

Hanna Jameson wrote her first book at the age of seventeen. Paul Rees of Q Magazine described her as writing like 'an angel on speed'. She has worked for the NHS and travelled the USA, Japan and Europe, developing a particular interest in the US, which led to her studying for a BA in American History. The Last is her first novel for Penguin.

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