The Last by Hanna Jameson
Atria Books: 4/9/19
eBook review copy; 352 pages
The Last by Hanna Jameson is a highly recommended end-of-the-world psychological thriller.
Jon Keller is attending an academic conference at the isolated
L’Hotel Sixieme in Switzerland when people begin to receive the
notifications of nuclear bombs hitting various cities - Washington D.C.,
NYC, London, Berlin... As the news outlets and social media explode
with the shocking news, they also quickly go silent and it is impossible
to contact people. Jon is unable to contact his wife and regrets the
harsh words they exchanged before he left for the conference. In the
aftermath of the apocalyptic news, many people leave the hotel and try
to get to the airport. Others commit suicide, or wander off into the
surrounding woods. The clouds are now a strange color.
Two months afterwards, Jon is still at the hotel with a small group
of twenty survivors comprised of guests and staff. When the water begins
to taste off, Jon joins a small group who head up to the water tanks on
the roof to investigate. They are shocked to find the body of a young
girl in one of the tanks. Jon becomes obsessed with trying to find out
who she was, investigate her death, and find the person responsible for
The chapters are written from Jon's point-of-view and in the form of a
sort of journal documenting life in the hotel, including personal
stories about the other survivors and their experiences. Jon records his
investigation, personal interactions, and stories from the others. The
tension rises from the isolation of the group, along with the various
personalities and alliances that naturally form with a diverse group of
Characters Jon interacts with and are his friends are well developed.
Naturally they all have secrets. Other characters whose stories Jon
records are developed as secondary characters and, perhaps, suspects as
the novel progresses. The novel focuses more on the psychological
aspects of the situation, which seems very realistic in this isolation
scenario, although there are cases of danger when violence is a real
The writing is quite good and the tension increases incrementally.
The narrative moves along at an even pace - until the end when it
inexplicably ramps up the pace to the point where the denouement feels
rushed. This is part of the locked-room genre of novels, with the
isolated setting during an apocalypse limiting the number of suspects
but also making finding an answer nearly impossible. I liked the ending,
despite the rushed aspects of it.
There were several instances in some of the interactions between characters when I could definitely tell that the author is British,
not American. For example, there was a place in a conversation where
Jon said that "...in America we've all been taught this idea that we're
descended from rugged self-reliant cowboys." (Ah, no. We're not taught
this. Never. Not even a hint of this.) There were also several rather
disparaging instances of political commentary. It would have behooved
Jameson to leave out some of that which she doesn't actually know as
My review copy was courtesy of Atria Books.