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.
When the Earth stopped rotating, half the world was thrown into permanent night, the other into an endless day. On the edges of this global divide, life continues. Being in a fortunate position when the Stop came, the United Kingdom closed its borders and declared itself a survivor when all else was lost. Ellen Hopper lives offshore on a rig, monitoring the changing ocean currents. When some government officials appear on the rig, they come on behalf of her old Professor, someone she has no desire to see but when she is given little choice, she is set off on a path to discover something they want to stay hidden.
The Last Day is a mix of thriller and musings over what would happen if the world stopped turning. Unusually for me, the thriller plot was the most entertaining part with the environmental aspects falling short. Once Ellen gets to the mainland, her every move is dogged by members of Internal Security. People keep dying, and she isn’t even sure what it is she’s chasing.
It was the same story everywhere these days, Hopper knew. Shortage, shortage, shortage; shortages of food, of water, of fuel, of sleep, of levity, of decency.
I think I would have liked this more if the perspective wasn’t just from the UK, where the Stop had the least impact. It seems we just became extremely isolationist (I mean we’re getting there already without an extinction level event) and got better curtains. I suppose it’s trying to be a post-Brexit novel, with the nation cutting itself off from the rest of the world. The information about the Slow and Stop worldwide came across as info-dumped. I’d have liked to have seen characters dealing with the extremes, not just the hard-to-believe position of the UK in the one spot where the sun was bearable. Let’s face it, there was a good chance it’d be in the middle of the ocean.
I felt some of the flashback chapters were better written. They weren’t stopping to explain something that had happened to the world, they were letting the story unfold in those moments. They also shed some light on why on earth Ellen was not just returning to the rig. I’m not sure I got her motivation at the start.
If Richard can persuade enough people their self interest is best maintained by living in the world he’s built, he’ll stay. But there are two ways of doing that. To persuade them their world is bright and good – that’s the first, But to persuade them the alternative is catastrophe – that’s even more powerful.
If productive arable land is precious why are they growing tobacco still? People keep having cigarettes like it’s not the end of the world. They’re not even people who would be in a privileged position to access restricted items. And coffee! A crop that is notoriously susceptible to climate change. Not to mention the lack of major environmental changes. Floods are briefly mentioned, but these subsided and clearly couldn’t have been that bad if everyone is living in London still…
I’m not a fan of the narrative referring to characters by their surname all the time, it’s kinda distancing. It just seems that the people that know Ellen use her first name, so why is the narrative using Hopper all the time? I found the characters a little unemotional in general, but for a thriller that’s not unusual.
Whilst the ending provides an answer, it definitely felt like it was setting up for a sequel. I’d have preferred an epilogue, but then I don’t feel inclined to read another one, so maybe I wasn’t that excited about the thought of unanswered questions.
The Last Day is published by Cornerstone and will be available in hardback and ebook editions from 6th February 2020. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.
ATY: 4. A book set in a place or time that you wouldn’t want to live
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