Comparing The Last by Hanna Jameson with The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey is setting a very high standard for a book.I will admit that one it drew me in admittedly with the comparison, but it also left me very apprehensive/skeptical when I began reading it.
Thank you Atria/Simon and Schuster and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for a fair review.
Did it live up to The Girl with All the Gifts? I’m not sure ANYTHING can do such a thing. However, it did meet my expectations otherwise. It is book that meets my analogy of making reading a combat sport for multiple reasons.
The plot is completely plausible and that makes it absolutely terrifying. It is hard to not have a physical/anxiety riddled reaction to the situation at hand. When an American Historian becomes stranded at a Swiss conference during a nuclear attack his short-term reaction is to write down everything for the sake of record keeping. He is, of course, an historian. From the very beginning the initial confusion of the blast to the loss of electricity, the internet, contact to the outside world. To his inability to contact family, the outside world and then the scramble for food.
The structure of the book makes it all that more mysterious, thrilling and suspenseful as we are reading the book not just through Jon’s eyes but through his actual journal. The notes he takes, the journal he keeps is actually how we read the book and experience this harrowing journey. Even as the murders begin, and the murder mystery begins to unfold. A historians viewpoints through this journal really isolates not just all the big fears but the little joys that you find along the way… a song here or a unexpected treat of food there. An occasional authentic laugh that even for a moment, helps you forget.
I don’t want to give anything else away. Like The Girl With All the Gifts, the more you know going, the less impact the plot will have. The way the book is set-up is purposely meant to unfold in its own time for a specific purpose. I will not take that away from the author’s intent.
If you can handle asking yourself what if, in the times we currently live in (and living, literally next door to a national monument- the Gateway Arch- I found myself looking out my window and doing this often), I highly suggest you pick up this book.