Book Review: The Last

You’ve probably seen The Last all over your social media feeds and various book blogs. That red and black cover (which would look more at home with the slew of feminist and dysoptian texts such as VOX and The Power) is simply made for an instagram post.

Reviewers too seem to rave about this post apocalyptic thriller with a twisty turny whodunit plot. I mean the very tagline suggests that you are about to read a very modern Agatha Christie type affair (One Hotel. Twenty Survivors. Who Will Be … The Last). It will probably be made into a TV series, which you will probably watch in that expanse of time between Christmas and New Year. You’ll try to guess which character will get picked off next and take bets with your family on who the murderer is …

Only that’s not what this novel is. It sort of starts out that way and then sort of forgets halfway through, only for the mystery to be sort of wrapped up in the race towards the end of the novel.

It’s not really all that much of a post apocalyptic tale of woe. We know precious little of what started man’s descent to oblivion and we only really see the after effects from the perspective of 20 guests (and staff) trapped in a hotel in Switzerland.

So really I got to the end of The Last and wasn’t totally sure what I read. I enjoyed it, although I was frustrated by the lack of progress on the murder mystery and rather disappointed by the end. I wanted to finish it and it was a light, entertaining sort of a read.

Unlike a lot of reviewers I didn’t take issue with the narrator, he might not be that likable, but he did at least read realistically. I also liked the way that the relationships between the characters were developed. There were suspenseful moments and I cared enough about them to want to read through to the end.

Something I did think was clever and which does set this novel apart from other thrillers is how, much like Vox before it, Jameson used the very current reality of a troubled American leadership to create a terrifying image of the future. The news coming out of America as I read this book, with troops being withdrawn and threats of ruin a country’s economy, seemed to read like the preamble of the nuclear war in the book. And let’s not begin to discuss the political landscape of the UK.

This perhaps made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and your skin prickle more than the traditional (or lack thereof) thriller tropes.

It’s funny as I sat down to write this review I hadn’t anticipated how negatively I felt about this book! This may be a case of the hype being too loud, too great for the text to live up to.

Have you read The Last? What did you think?

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