BOOK REVIEW – The Last, Hanna Jameson

‘Nadia once told me that she was kept awake at night by the idea that she would read about the end of the world on a phone notification.’

We never think it’s actually going to happen. That the world could end at any moment. Today, tomorrow, next week – typically just before the presentation you’ve been working on for months. Hanna Jameson’s THE LAST, explores of the reality of what would happen should someone press the big red button and nuked the world. Who would survive? What would the survivors look like? Just what would we do?

However, that’s not what drew me to The Last. On the the back of the proof copy I received it read: ‘One Hotel. Twenty Survivors. One of them is a murderer.’ And I thought, Yes, locked-room mystery. I am a sucker for a good reveal.

In the end, the narrative walks a wobbly line between end-of-the-world disaster novel and mystery, and I’m not entirely sure it fit in to either camps as a result. I found myself not really worried about solving the mystery, which, I am sad to say, didn’t really resolve satisfactorily to me. Ends were tied up, but all too conveniently with a significantly minor sub-plot being at the bottom of it all – it didn’t really provide the ‘But, of course’ moment or the twists we all love.

But in a way, that is the point. Nothing really comes of anything. Humans understand their lives through narrative. We expect to find some form of meaning or understanding to all our actions, and it unnerves us when there isn’t a why. Jon and his fellow survivors spend their time not only trying to live to the next day, but also wondering why, passing blame and responsibility around. But as Jon reflects: ‘Instead of a conclusion, we have been offered nothing but more life. I don’t know how to come to terms with that’.

Thanks to the author and Viking Books UK for the ARC in exchange for a honest review.