Publication: 31st January 2019 – Viking Books
BREAKING: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington
Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilisation, 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?
Hanna Jameson describes a scary scenario: a nuclear war between the nations and the end of the world as we know it. Now, imagine that during all this, you are safe in a remote hotel in Switzerland, but with no communication with the outside world, no electricity, and no internet, so you have no idea what is going on out there, you don’t know how many people are still alive, you don’t know if your loved ones are still alive. That’s the story created by the author, a story that made me feel slightly anxious and tense.
Slow-paced and with an atmosphere that, at times, I found claustrophobic, THE LAST is told from the point of view of Jon Keller, an American history professor in Switzerland for a convention. He is staying at the big and isolated Hotel Sixiéme when the world ends so, with no way to reach for his family back in America and not knowing if he will survive, he decides to keep a diary, a journal that records everything that happens in the hotel on the days following the disaster. He interviews the other guests to ask what they remember about the day the world ended, he narrates the panic, the fear, the paranoia that takes hold of everyone in the hotel.
THE LAST can be read as a character study of how people react to catastrophes, how some people just give up on living while others show their surviving skills and fight to live another day. It shows a group of people, mostly strangers, forced to live together and to govern themselves, but they are surrounded by feelings of jealousy and suspicion and they don’t know who they can trust.
While people don’t know what to do, don’t know if they will survive, a mystery in the background keeps Jon busy. The body of a young girl is found in a water tank, she was murdered and Jon becomes obsessed with discovering the killer. This second storyline gives a more suspenseful feeling to the story, especially after it’s revaled that the Hotel Sixiéme has a history of murders in the past.
THE LAST is a dystopian thriller, it’s thrilling, thought-provoking, and well-written and I was so engrossed in it that when I finished reading I looked around and it took me a few seconds to realize that, luckily, there hadn’t been a nuclear war and the world hadn’t ended.