Source: Review copy
Publication: 31 January 2019 from Viking
BREAKING: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington
BREAKING: London hit, thousands feared dead
BREAKING: Munich and Scotland hit. World leaders call for calm
Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilisation, he wishes he had a way of knowing whether his wife, Nadia, and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn’t ignored Nadia’s last message.
Twenty people remain in Jon’s hotel. Far from the nearest city and walled in by towering trees, they wait, they survive.
Then one day, the body of a young girl is found. It’s clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer.
As paranoia descends, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what kind of justice can he hope for, when society as he knows it no longer exists?
You know that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that you got at the last US elections? That truly dreadful feeling when you wonder what might happen in the nuclear arms race?
Well, wonder no more, because Hanna Jameson has created a nuclear winter that is scarily plausible.
Probably, almost, dystopian, The Last is a dark and scary read about the end of the world as we know it.
Jon Keller, an American historian, is in Switzerland in a remote hotel in the Alps, attending a conference when news breaks that there has been a nuclear hit on Washington and other major world cities. In the aftermath of this horrific news, many people leave the hotel, others, around 20 of them, decide to wait it out in the hope of rescue arriving.
The internet is down, electricity cut off and these 20 survivors are left wondering what has happened and whether it is safer to stay or to try and leave. With no news and nothing to indicate whether they are the last one left alive, these survivors are in the ultimate locked room. So when a dead body is found, the fear and paranoia which is already abundant in the hotel reaches crisis point.
Jon decides to investigate alongside keeping a document of the days following the nuclear explosions. It is through Jon’s writing that we see how the atmosphere changes; watch as friendships are made and unmade and see the suspicions that flare up; the conflicts and the threats as a disparate group of people begin to face up to their situation.
Dark, tension fuelled and very thought provoking, The Last opens up a lot of questions about human nature, and how quickly people will revert to a more animalistic style of behaviour when their way of life is threatened. A fast moving plot (perhaps a little too rushed towards the end) coupled with good characterisation, lots of action and a healthy dose of mystery all combine to make this an unnerving, edgy read.
Verdict: Haunting, original, scarily plausible. Gulp.
Hanna Jameson wrote her first book at the age of seventeen. Paul Rees of Q Magazine described her as writing like ‘an angel on speed’. She has worked for the NHS and travelled the USA, Japan and Europe, developing a particular interest in the US, which led to her studying for a BA in American History. The Last is her first novel for Penguin.