I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
The Last is set in a dystopian future after nuclear war has begun. Major cities have been destroyed, the internet is only available in a few areas, and major transport links have been shut down. This leaves the residents of a hotel in Switzerland stranded. Many made a run for it on day one, hoping to find their way home, but a select few decided to stay where they knew they would be safe. The book is written as an account from one of those who stayed behind.
Jon was attending a conference when the world collapsed. Like many, he was cut off from his family as the internet went down and his world shrunk to the grounds of the hotel and the nearby forest and town. Regular hunts are arranged to gather food and the hotel rooms provide a safe space for those left behind. The group manage well until a body is discovered. Jon decides to look for the killer whilst documenting the history of each survivor to help uncover the truth of what has happened.
The body is only the start of the trouble within the hotel, the search for the murderer reveals other secrets that have been kept hidden, and other crimes are committed. In such a confined environment with the world ending around them, the gravity of the situation weighs heavily on the residents.
I love how the book feels like it could be set as early as next year. Bad decisions are voted for, and political tensions escalate to nuclear weapons in what seems like no time at all. We don’t learn too much about how it happened, but we could easily imagine it being just around the corner.
I felt the only person we really got to know was Jon, the main character. I knew who stocked chocolate, music, alcohol, or drugs when Jon needed them, but not what made them tick. I learned about their background, but not who they had become as a person as a result. In this way, most characters were unreliable narrators and this kept suspicions high throughout the book.
One question that bubbles away under the surface is was it the right choice to stay? Why not run with the others to try and get home? What would I do in that situation? Flights were cancelled and roads were blocked so what motivated those who left against those who stayed, and which was the right decision?
You can buy the book here: Amazon.co.uk
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