The Last: Dystopian fiction at its best

The Last by Hanna Jameson is an exciting, mysterious, at times bleak, but overall compelling dystopian novel which addresses how people would deal with being the last people on earth after nuclear destruction. Told from the perspective of an actionable narrator, this book has left me wanting so much more from Jameson. This could be one of the best dystopian novels of 2019. The Last by Hanna Jameson is out now from Viking Books.

*Apologies if any of the names are misspelt – I listened to an audio version

The story
Jon Keller has been on a trip to a conference in Switzerland when disaster strikes. The attacks destroy the world bit by bit, obliterating power lines, internet scarce and making groups of people feel like they are the last people alive in the world. To make matters worse, a body is found in the hotel’s water tanks, clearly murdered with next to no suspects, which leaves Jon suspecting everybody. With the mystery of the dead girl afoot, Jon sets out to find out what secrets people are keeping, making allies and enemies along the way. With help from friends, Nathan, Dylan, Tommy and Tanya, will Jon ever know the truth, and will the group ever find their way back to civilisation?

Why I enjoyed this book
Firstly, Jameson’s storytelling in The Last is exquisite. I loved the way she created a whole world inside an isolated hotel; I usually don’t enjoy narratives restricted to a certain place because they can feel claustrophobic. Jameson uses every inch of the hotel, from the kitchen, to the staff quarters, to various corridors and halls and cupboards which made it feel full and open and allowed for much more movement from the characters than I expected.
While Jon isn’t the most likeable or reliable narrator, I liked that he was the actionable character; he comments on the amounts of times he volunteers for things and I admired this about him. It made the book feel a lot more ‘here and now’ and threw me right into the action rather than watching from afar. His relationships with people are funny at times, and I like the fact that he isn’t a standard protagonist, often coming across irritating and insensitive. My only negative comment about his personality is that the character doesn’t own his beliefs more and seems terrified of offending people, which came across as weak at times.
The other characters were strong in their convictions, however which made up for it. Tommy is an excellent character, with controversial political views and an openness about her personal and sexual needs without making things romantic. I appreciated her honesty, and many of the other characters’ also. They drive this narrative to a whole new place, learning about their pasts, envisioning their futures in the unknown world and appreciating their cultural diversity. Jameson did well to explore the end of the world scenario from many different mindsets, which was brilliant.

Overall, The Last by Hanna Jameson is an excellent piece of dystopian fiction. I would recommend this to people who enjoy dystopian books, politically-driven fiction and solid mysteries which jump straight into the action. The audio narration was impeccable, so would recommend listening to it if you don’t have time to sit and read regularly. Thank you Viking Books for my proof copy of The Last by Hanna Jameson in exchange for an honest review.

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