Jon is attending a conference in a Swiss hotel the day the world ends. As nuclear war breaks out, a group of twenty survivors take shelter in the hotel. This is Jon’s account.
It didn’t seem as real as the headlines. Maybe we had all been desensitized to the imagery by too many movies. Watching a whole city vaporized like that seemed too fast, and too quiet.
Some of the survivors find a body of a girl in the water tank, I know eurgh, the water they’ve been drinking for weeks. I’m surprised they weren’t more ill. Anyway, faced with nothing better to do Jon decides to investigate the murder. I say that, but he thinks he’s maintaining a sense of right and wrong by doing so.
I liked the small scale of this. Nuclear fallout hasn’t reached Switzerland and they are not completely cut off from all modern technology. Sometimes the internet works, they have enough electricity to keep the freezers going and the hotel is secure. These people rally round and form new social structures in a community thrown together.
Our history teaches us that we have built a civilization out of nothing before. So I believe we will do it again.
The bulk of the story picks up around 50 days after the nukes fell, when Jon decides to keep an account of their possible final days. Are they the last people left? Unlikely, but they feel they must try and keep going, even if not everyone does.
I’m not sure the nuclear fallout was that well researched as several times they mentioned the trees had died. There’s not enough radiation to effect humans and whilst there is cloud cover, it’s not complete darkness. This was less than two months in, if trees died that quickly in gloomy light conditions, northern Europe would have no trees!
I liked the optimism that social networks would still be available if the US falls, but let’s face it, superservers have gone down in regular storms before. Anyway, I found the story engaging despite this and it was a good, quick read, without too much hopelessness.
Whilst the US president presumed responsible is not named, there are plenty of hints that it’s Trump. Blame is laid at the feet of those who voted for him, with tensions rising between the Europeans and Americans at the hotel.
This is nothing like how I thought dying in a nuclear war would be, but I’m glad there’s a free bar.
The Last is published by Penguin and will be available in hardback and ebook editions from 31st January 2019. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.