Wednesday, 14 August 2019

 

The Last by Hanna Jameson


When I first heard about The Last it sounded like it could be a pretty compelling read, but I didn't anticipate quite how gripped I'd be by this post-apocalyptic murder mystery. So much so, in fact, that when I started reading the novel I missed my stop on the commute into work – a journey I make every single day... I'd flown through the pages and the story, hooked by the disconcerting unknowns and the depth of the characters, and I clearly didn't want it to end. If that isn't a sign of a true page-turner, then I don't know what is.

Jon Keller is an American historian attending a conference in a remote hotel in Switzerland when suddenly social media timelines and news feeds are flooded with the news that there has been a nuclear attack on Washington. It killed hundreds of thousands of people at once, including the current government, and is quickly followed by attacks in other parts of the world. The residents and employees have a life-or-death choice to make: stay in the relative safety of L’Hotel Sixieme with complete strangers and limited supplies or venture out into the dangerous unknown trying to find a way back home to friends and family.

Less than thirty people stay, a mixture of the last remaining employees and tourists from all over the world, including children and a baby. The Last is their survival story. One where hesitant bonds are forged, leaders arise, and difficult decisions have to be made. Most may not have known each other just days before, but suddenly they have to trust their lives and futures into the hands of the brave and the fit. That is, until there is a murder and suddenly every single one of the remaining people is a suspect...

The Last is the ultimate page-turner. Opening with the worldwide nuclear attacks and focusing on the apocalyptic devastation and the collapse of civilisation, the pages are already shrouded in mystery as everything about the survivors' situation is unknown. Are there any people and cities left in the world? Who launched the attacks? Are friends and family still alive? Is the food and water from outside safe to consume? How long until supplies run out? Will anyone come to rescue them? And then, when the murdered girl is found, the only thing that seemed safe and certain: the hotel and its inhabitants, suddenly turn malicious too. The questions become: Am I safe? And can I trust the other people in the hotel?

One of my all-time favourite books is Station Eleven, a post-apocalyptic story with a lot of darkness hiding underneath but a surprising beauty and theatricality on the surface too. Its author, Emily St. John Mandel, has written a quote for the cover of The Last, hinting to the strong atmospheric and storytelling link between the two novels. In addition to that, Hanna Jameson's edge-of-your-seat thriller also has a murder mystery element, adding even more twists and turns to the story to keep the reader hooked from start to finish. If Agatha Christie and Emily St. John Mandel ever had a chance to collaborate, they probably would've come up with something very similar to this gripping read.

The Last is such a thought-provoking page-turner that its the best book I've read in 2019 so far and I cannot stop recommending it to other people (once person has even bought their own copy while I was still with them and I'd just told them about it, win). I'd be very surprised if it doesn't end up at least in my top 3 by the end of the year, maybe even make that coveted top slot of favourite book of 2019. So if you're looking for your next read to be something that pulls you in from the very first page and keeps you thinking well beyond the last, pick up Hanna Jameson's novel as you won't be disappointed.


The Last
by Hanna Jameson is published by Penguin Books and you can get your copy now from Foyles or your own preferred retailer.

 

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but it was my choice to cover it on my blog with an honest review.


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