The Last By Hanna Jameson – A Review

Publisher: Viking

Publication Date: 31st January 2019

When I saw this book on Twitter the cover intrigued me and being such a staunch historical fiction fan these days I thought that this contemporary story might be a nice little break from all the Victorian cobbled streets of London. And I can report that indeed it was!

I’m not big on disaster fiction (is that a thing?……I just made it one if not), or disaster movies come to that. ‘End of the world’ stuff wouldn’t usually be my first port of call bookwise (or ANYTHING wise really!) but as I knew that The Last centres around one hotel and a select group of people I felt like it could be a fascinating read.

So what the blazes is it all about?….

Well, a nuclear attack has just been launched on Washington, hundreds of thousands of people are dead and more nuclear bombs are dropping all over the world. Historian Jon is staying in a Swiss hotel having attended a convention when the news breaks.

As you can imagine, there is widespread panic and many of the large hotels residents make a run for it and try to get to the airport. Jon decides to stick it out at the hotel whilst worrying about the safety of his wife and two children back home in the US. Not actually knowing whether they are alive or dead.

Around 20 people remain at the hotel, made up of a handful of hotel staff and residents of the hotel at the time of the bombing, including 2 children.

When a child’s body is discovered in one of the water tanks, and the evidence points to her having been murdered PRIOR to the bombs, Jon makes it his mission to find out who she was, what happened to her and whether the perpetrator is still in fact at the hotel…..

What I loved about this book was the sheer number of threads and layers of stories running throughout. The claustrophobic paranoia and suspicion between the survivors as they navigate their new life and try to ascertain who they can or cannot trust. The mystery of the murdered girl and what had happened to her. The unknown of the outside world both locally and globally. The various different backstories of the residents, why they were at the hotel to begin with. All under the very starkly scary possibility that this could happen one day!

It was fascinating (and chilling!) to consider how you would react yourself under these circumstances. Of course you have to suspend disbelief whilst you’re reading as nobody has any idea how things would pan out if nuclear war were to be declared. But it was compelling to read about the various different problems and hardships the residents came up against, the rapidly diminishing food supplies, the lack of sunlight due to nuclear clouds, the destruction of wildlife and no way of communicating with the outside world.

This is a claustrophobic, intense book which makes you question everyone and leaves you thinking ‘What if?’……..

Despite the chillingly scary subject matter I found this a refreshing read and I’m so pleased I stepped outside of my comfort zone to read it.

Thank you as always to the publisher for the proof copy.

See you soon.

Amanda – Bookish Chat xx

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