“A brilliantly executed novel…the questions Jameson poses—who will be with you at the end of the world, and what kind of person will you be?—are as haunting as the plot itself. This is a chilling and extraordinary book.”– Emily St. John Mandel, bestselling author of Station Eleven
As described by a prominent bookseller,“Hanna Jameson’s The Last reads as if Ruth Ware and Tana French teamed up to write a murder mystery set during a nuclear Lord of the Flies,” this breathtaking dystopian psychological thriller follows an American academic stranded at a Swiss hotel as the world descends into nuclear war—along with twenty other survivors—who becomes obsessed with identifying a murderer in their midst after the body of a young girl is discovered in one of the hotel’s water tanks.
Jon thought he had all the time in the world to respond to his wife’s text message: I miss you so much. I feel bad about how we left it. Love you. But as he’s waiting in the lobby of the L’Hotel Sixieme in Switzerland after an academic conference, still mulling over how to respond to his wife, he receives a string of horrifying push notifications. Washington, DC has been hit with a nuclear bomb, then New York, then London, and finally Berlin. That’s all he knows before news outlets and social media goes black—and before the clouds on the horizon turn orange.
Now, two months later, there are twenty survivors holed up at the hotel, a place already tainted by its strange history of suicides and murders. Those who can’t bear to stay commit suicide or wander off into the woods. Jon and the others try to maintain some semblance of civilization. But when the water pressure disappears, and Jon and a crew of survivors investigate the hotel’s water tanks, they are shocked to discover the body of a young girl.
As supplies dwindle and tensions rise, Jon becomes obsessed with investigating the death of the little girl as a way to cling to his own humanity. Yet the real question remains: can he afford to lose his mind in this hotel, or should he take his chances in the outside world?
A Note From the Publisher
Requesting Goodreads reviews immediately and holding all blog, web, print, video reviews until at least March.
This is my personal “Pick To Click” for 2019. One of the more unique and unusual books I’ve ever read.
Take the locked room, thrilling intensity of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and place it in Stephen King’s hotel from The Shining and set it after nukes take out several major cities across the globe and you get The Last-- a high concept murder mystery, end of the world thriller of which Emily St John Mandel, author of the best-selling novel Station Eleven, has said ‘a brilliantly executed novel… the questions Jameson poses – who will be with you at the end of the world, and what kind of person will you be? – are as haunting as the plot itself. This is a chilling and extraordinary book.’
We meet Jon Keller three days after the first nuclear bomb hit Washington and as each major city the world over is wiped out, he and the 20 other survivors stranded in a remote hotel in Switzerland slowly lose contact with the outside world. Their resources are limited. And when the water starts to run cloudy and taste strange, Jon and a group of men go up on the roof of the hotel to see what's blocking the tank...
There they find the body of a young girl who appears to have been murdered. And in a world where the police and the justice systems no longer exist, Jon makes it his mission to find out which of the 20 surviving hotel guests is the murderer.
Eerie, thrilling and provocative The Last is a work of speculative fiction that makes you question where you’re morals lie when the world you’ve always known no longer exists.
Please consider for 2019 previews AND review coverage in April. I leave you with a rare “trust me on this one”.
All the best,
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Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 150 members
This was a really unsettling read, especially because it felt so plausible based on current events. That said, it was also a gripping, fast paced dystopian thriller with a side dish of murder mystery. I don't want to say too much about this one yet, but I'm really excited to see what other people think of The Last as they read/review it. While the plots are different, it gave me similar vibes to The Last One, another post-apocalyptic/dystopian that I adored. I think fans of that book will love this as well. Highly recommended!
Though I thought this would be mostly about the murder discovered in the days after a global nuclear attack, this turned out to be a quieter apocalyptic story with the murder mystery receding into the background at times and ultimately being secondary to something that seemed totally unrelated at the outset. There's plenty of humanity on display and of course, it's not always pretty. Jon Keller, our narrator has highs and lows but remains a narrator that can be trusted for the most part. He did do things that grated on my nerves (being sworn to secrecy & completely outing the secret numerous times without thinking about the consequences and often on his on whims of how he felt about the person he either told or was telling on). He seemed fickle to me but I afforded him a bit of leeway because the apocalypse makes people do strange things and his sins such as they were, were minor in comparison to others. The brief moments of political resentment & assessing of blame to Americans, in particular, felt real but ultimately futile. With all the politicians effectively dead or neutered and the world's interconnectedness broken up in such a way that it really didn't matter anymore, I appreciated the recognition of how people would act but also was glad that the story didn't dwell because the survivors really had more important things to deal with and honestly, enough time, energy and breath had been used on and by all those folks before The Fall. I very much enjoyed the parts that showed how people felt about the loss of life as it had been from having television, internet and social media access to what it's like to face the apocalypse without your family or even in your home country. The feeling of being unmoored and untethered was shown well as was the decision to either make a go of the life you have as it is or opt out. There was no judgment either way and handled well, I think. I was glad to highlight some very well written passages I'd like to remember and look up again and that's always welcome. A bit like Station Eleven with the quiet literary vibe, but also with elements of The Stand with some characters bringing in their brand of mysticism and that whole rebuilding and factions thing and a sprinkling of World War Z with the telling as a first-hand historical account. It comes together well but I do think the book blurb needs a rework. I'd definitely read another by Jameson.
A really fast paced post-nuclear war novel that I read in one day.. The end of the world and you find yourself at a hotel in the country with 20 strangers. A cool premise and the story is told as Jon, a historian who was there for a conference, writes a living history of the days after the event. The format leads to a one-sided view of the events although Jon interviews each person, Jon and the reader, only learns what each person wants to share. It is past dystopian and part murder mystery. It reminded me of Station Eleven a bit.
Just devoured this book in about four sittings. I love post-apocalyptic books, I love thrillers, I love mysteries, I love locked door mysteries. This was perfect for me! And that cover is just gorgeous. I loved the way it was written as kind of a diary (tho Jon would say it’s not a diary) written by the main character Jon. He’s a historian so he felt the need to record everything happening to what could possibly be some of the Last people left in the world after a nuclear war between virtually the entire world. Started by the US’s idiot president (loved that part, but also scary because that could happened right now). While trying to live they’re also trying to figure out the mystery of a dead girl they find in one of the water towers on the roof. I really loved the atmosphere Hanna created and all of the characters. I loved their conversations about what’s right and what’s wrong in this post-apocalyptic world they’re now in. Five big stars from me!
Jon Keller is in Switzerland, half a world away from his family, when Washington DC and a lot of other cities get nuked. Now, stranded in a hotel with dozens of strangers, cut off from the internet, wondering if his family is still alive, Jon and others find a girl's body in one of the hotel's water tanks... My man Easy E was bragging about how great this book was on Twitter months ago and I added it to my Netgalley wish list. Eventually, I was invited to read it and I read it on a single dreary Sunday. It was gripping, to say the least. In a way, The Last reminds me of The Last Policeman. While the world is crumbling, one man has a mystery to solve, a mystery not a lot of other people seem to care about. In other ways, it reminds me of The Stand, a story of people surviving in the ruins of civilization. In all ways, it was one hell of a book. I was surprised at how enthralled I was with the book. Hanna Jameson does a great job at building suspense and sewing some misdirection. Her characters were surprisingly rich. It would have been easy to go with stock characters in a story like this but Jon, Tomi, Dylan, and the rest were a complex bunch. Even Peter had his hidden dimensions. The book had a paranoid feel at times, like anyone at the hotel could have been the killer, and that anyone could be hiding in the vast but nearly vacant hotel. I don't really want to reveal anything else. The Last combines my favorite things about post-apocalyptic fiction and mystery fiction. I can't recommend it enough. Five out of five stars.
I was all set to close the book (cough) on 2018; I had finished up the Peter Grant series in a very satisfactory way, was finishing up a couple other books, and was hoping to actually complete reviews for the books read, all in the same year–I know, I know. Foolish. Then I saw Robert’s review and the words ‘apocalypse’ and ‘mystery’ instantly jumped out. You could not have tempted me more with dark chocolate sea salt caramels. And wouldn’t you know it? Last was just as satisfying, a great mix of emotions and flavors. It starts off quickly; no building of suspense, wondering when the end of the world will happen, letting our hapless characters wander around as we all get our bearings. It has happened; Jon, the narrator, begins the story three days after the news breaks. An American tucked away in Switzerland for a conference, and he and his colleagues have been routed to a somewhat isolated hotel. I hesitate to say much more; suffice to say that it unfolds quickly and seems very plausible. It combines the best of the apocalypse: a quick disaster, a prolonged sense of aftermath, the opportunity to explore self, meaning, and society, all done with solid writing. “A lot of people confuse movement with progress,’ Dylan said. ‘I knew it was a bad idea but what were we gonna do, barricade them in? They weren’t ready to face any kind of truth.’ I leaned against the wall of the stairwell as Dylan got out his set of keys. The air in here was too thick, full of dust and last breaths. It stank. I hated the stairwell but of course the elevators weren’t working anymore; hadn’t worked for two months, not since that first day.” I can think of a handful of books that this would compare to, and it’s no surprise that the publisher draws analogies to The Last Policeman and Station Eleven. I think that for many, however, this will be an improvement on both of those. Less bucolic and with a stronger narrative than Station Eleven,there is a definite atmosphere of fearfulness and psychological stress. Will these survivors break down? Like an inverse horror movie with the demons from within, how will they cope? Similar to The Last Policeman, the narrator is struggling with his own reactions and trauma response; though aware he is doing so, he’s not exactly doing so with great success. But he reflects and engages, and it provides interesting food for thought. “I figure I should keep writing things down. The clouds are a strange color, but I’m not sure if that’s just me being in shock. They could be normal clouds.” I will agree with Robert, one of the reviews that lead me to this book; the ending did feel rushed. Of course, for me, endings often feel rushed with suspense novels, as I’m speed-reading, trying to discover the resolution and relieve the tension. I’ll go so far as to say it’s a little Tana-French-ish in that the story is more about the psychological journey of the characters and less about the mystery. It is an intriguing ending, but yes; it does try to do too much too quickly, given the pacing of the middle. Last but random note: one of the few end-of-the-world novels that integrates more than then an average white American in it. Still, it was a fabulous way to end my 2018 reads. Definitely left me with a book-hangover. Many thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for the advance reader copy. The quotes, of course, are subject to change in the final writing, but I do think that Jameson’s style is one of the aspects that sets this above your average mystery or end of the world, and should be appreciated.