Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Last Day

The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray
Penguin Random House: 2/4/20
eBook review copy; 384 pages
ISBN-13: 9781524745813

The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray is a recommended dystopian thriller set in 2059.

The earth has stopped rotating, leaving half the world in perpetual light and the other in darkness. Great Britain is lucky enough to be in a narrow habitable region and is now a totalitarian nation with closed borders. A small section of land has been given to the United States for colonization.  Ellen Hopper is a scientist living on a rig in the Atlantic, studying ocean currents. When two government officials come to the rig via helicopter she is basically forced to go back to London to visit the bedside of her dying former Oxford mentor, Edward Thorne. He has a secret he has been keeping and government officials are sure he will tell her where to find the information they seek.

Ellen knows a secret about Thorne's past, which she keeps to herself, but she doesn't know the secret information the government seeks. They hope Thorne will tell her. What happens is that she secretly sends herself on the mission to try and figure out the truth, his secret, on her own, following clues and leads as she uncovers them. She is being watched and followed, beaten up and interrogated, yet still managing to stay one step ahead of the officials who want to destroy the information Thorne has hidden away.

The writing is good and the short chapters keep the plot moving along swiftly in this very changed world. The characters are compelling and interesting. The dystopian world will interest science fiction fans, but the plot requires setting disbelief aside in order to enjoy the mystery of Ellen's search. Her search makes this more of an espionage thriller, where the setting makes the search more interesting, but you have to believe she could find what others could not find. The ending leaves room open for a sequel.

One niggling concern in involving the reader's investment in the plot is that the science behind the slow down and stop wasn't presented until a bit later in the story when it should have been explained earlier. I found myself wanting the explanation behind it long before it was given. The second is the search by Ellen herself, which requires you to believe that the nefarious government officials wouldn't have thought of what she does and couldn't find out the information without her help.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.

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