Blurb: The world has ended in nuclear war. You and nineteen other survivors hole up in an isolated Swiss hotel. You wait, you survive. Then you find the body. One of your number has blood on their hands. The race is on to find the killer… before the killer finds you.
Title: The Last
Author: Hanna Jameson
Publisher: Penguin Books, part of the Penguin Random House Group
Genre: Fiction, Dystopia, Mystery
The end of the world isn’t what Jon expected when he travelled to attend a work conference but that’s exactly what he got. Surviving in a remote hotel with a bunch of strangers seemed like the safest option until help arrives. But when a body turns up in the water supply and more time passes, they figure out that there’s no help coming…
If you’re on the look out for a spooky dystopia set in a remote, otherwise abandoned hotel, then you’re in the right place. Nuclear war has destroyed most of the planet and twenty strangers find themselves having to survive together in the face of losing everything they know. One of my favourite things about this story was the setting. We’ve seen countless times just how creepy hotels can be and this one is no exception. Abandoned rooms, sleepwalkers and staring at the same four walls are just some of the ways that Jameson creates a chilling setting. I also got some Walking Dead vibes from the whole thing. The group has to go on supply runs, most people are toting guns and there’s a very genre fitting (yet still awful) mention of people turning to cannibalism to survive. These mentions aren’t graphic but for me, that only served to make it more creepy!
I also have to note the characters. I didn’t really warm to any of them which, normally would bother me, but here only made it all the better. When faced with the end of the world I doubt anyone is on their best behaviour, or acting in their right mind all the time. I appreciated that we got to see different sides to these characters, both vulnerable and angry, as it really helped to make them three dimensional.
I also enjoyed the nods to true crime when it came to the hotel. A body is found in a water tank, much like the case of Elisa Lam at the Hotel Cecil, and there’s a reference to a previous guest being a serial killer (Richard Ramirez in the Hotel Cecil?) who won a dating show which immediately reminded me of The Dating Game Killer, Rodney Alcala. For any true crime junkie, these little Easter eggs are an interesting find.
As for what I disliked about the book, my main problem was that it wasn’t anything like the story that’s promised in the blurb. On the back of the book we’re tempted by the idea of a serial killer at the end of the world – something I’ve never come across before which felt particularly fascinating. Now, while there is a body found in the water tank, that’s the only one. Jon investigates halfheartedly but doesn’t really learn anything and then, right at the end, we’re given an explanation that feels redundant and, in all honesty, lack lustre. I do feel that as a dystopia, this book can really hold its own but due to some questionable marketing, I was left feeling a bit deceived. To add to that, the ending scene is another that didn’t set very well with me. It felt like an attempt to tie up loose ends which perhaps would have been more thought provoking if they’d been left alone. I’d also note that while I enjoyed the characters, there was quite a large cast which did at times leave me confused, especially as some only pop up when needed.
Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who’s in the market for a dystopia set after nuclear war has erupted, but perhaps not if you’re thinking this is going to be an intense murder mystery!
Recommend?: Yes, if you’re not in the market for a murder mystery!
Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!
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