by Hanna Jameson
Narrator: Anthony Starke
Length: 12 hours and 16 minutes
Genres: Psychological Thriller
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Narration: 3.5 cups Speed: 1.4x
For fans of high-concept thrillers such as Annihilation and The Girl with All the Gifts, this breathtaking dystopian psychological thriller follows an American academic stranded at a Swiss hotel as the world descends into nuclear war - along with 20 other survivors - who becomes obsessed with identifying a murderer in their midst after the body of a young girl is discovered in one of the hotel's water tanks.
Jon thought he had all the time in the world to respond to his wife's text message: I miss you so much. I feel bad about how we left it. Love you. But as he's waiting in the lobby of the L'Hotel Sixieme in Switzerland after an academic conference, still mulling over how to respond to his wife, he receives a string of horrifying push notifications. Washington, DC, has been hit with a nuclear bomb, then New York, then London, and finally Berlin. That's all he knows before news outlets and social media go black - and before the clouds on the horizon turn orange.
Now, two months later, there are 20 survivors holed up at the hotel, a place already tainted by its strange history of suicides and murders. Those who can't bear to stay commit suicide or wander off into the woods. Jon and the others try to maintain some semblance of civilization. But when the water pressure disappears and Jon and a crew of survivors investigate the hotel's water tanks, they are shocked to discover the body of a young girl.
As supplies dwindle and tensions rise, Jon becomes obsessed with investigating the death of the little girl as a way to cling to his own humanity. Yet the real question remains: Can he afford to lose his mind in this hotel, or should he take his chances in the outside world?
The Last by Hanna Jameson drew me in with its dystopian setting and murder mystery. Narrated by Anthony Starke this was marketed as a dystopian psychological thriller which led to disappointment.
Jon is at the L’Hotel Sixieme in Switzerland. He recently finished an academic conference. He is mulling over how to respond to his wife’s text, when he receives a string of horrifying push notifications. Washington, DC has been hit with a nuclear bomb, then New York, then London, and finally Berlin. Communication goes dark. He and others at the hotel find themselves stranded as clouds of orange can be seen on the horizon. Yikes..what a beginning. The story that unfolds deals with the survivors in the hotel. The complications of surviving, the sorry of not knowing about loved ones and then they find a body of a young girl whose been murdered.
The Last was interesting. It was character driven but the setting and circumstances pushed as well. There are twenty survivors at the hotel after a few head out on their own. The characters are quirky and have formed groups of a sort. When the water pressure in the hotel drops, Jon and others investigate. They find the body of a young unidentified child in one of the water tanks. It is then Jon begins a quest for answers.
The tale is told from Jon’s perspective as he interviews, observes and makes discoveries. But their day to day survival is chronicled as well.
- The mystery. I was curious to know what happened to the little girl. for Jon it gave him a sense of purpose and a chance to avoid the feelings about his wife and stepchildren.
- The characters backstories, particularly that of Nathan who has ties to the hotel. Jon is a historian and it felt natural for him to keep a journal and investigate.
- The interactions and reactions of the twenty hotel guests as they spend time in isolation, make runs for supplies and establish rules. It is always fascinating to watch people who normally wouldn’t interact on a daily basis form alliances, friendships and engage. Lines formed based on lifestyle, political views and more. It was interesting viewing all of this from Jon’s perspective. For me this was one of the strongest points of this novel.
- The hotel L’Hotel Sixieme, surrounded by woods and set far from the outskirts of the nearest town has a rich, bizarre history.
- This was marketed as a dystopian psychological thriller. I expected a much faster pace, danger and plenty of action. While we had moments this fell short of my expectations.
- The pacing was off and some parts dragged. This I think resulted in the combination of genres. Dystopian and Murder-Mystery. I think both suffered for it. I understand the unique setting the catastrophic event caused, but it didn’t have enough of the action, suspense and near death moments typically found within the dystopian genre
- I didn’t really care for Jon. I am not sure if it was the narration or his personality. He felt whiney and I struggled in sharing his emotions and thoughts. Perhaps socially awkward is a good word to describe him.
- The murder didn’t create enough of a sense of danger. Sure a murderer could be living among them, but the tension wasn’t there.
- I wanted more of some threads. Like the people in the woods and the small town. All of these were dystopian aspects of the story and created that rush one feels when reading the genre.
Anthony Starke provided the narration for The Last. I thought he did an excellent job with Jon’s Mississippi accent. He gave both male and female characters their own unique voice and beautifully handled accents. This was not a favorite narration for me, and after a few chapters I increased the listening speed to 1.5x. I did this because Jon’s voice was slow..so very slow and drab without much inflection. I highly suspect this was a personality trait of Jon’s but it affected my listening pleasure.
I enjoyed aspects of The Last. The author provided a thought provoking look at human interaction and survival during an end of times situation, particularly with the isolated setting but I struggled with the pacing and threads. Had this not been marketed as a dystopian psychological thriller maybe I wouldn’t have felt so disappointed. ?
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
This sounds like a great psychological thriller. I love these types of thrillers. The ones that mess with your head are just the best. Great review!
I never really see a murder mystery and dystopian setting combined so this definitely does sound unique. I love cross-genres or genre mash ups! It just sounds like the pacing needed to up the ante and things needed to be a bit more refined :/
This book certainly sounds interesting as to me it’s like Clue in a dystopian, sci-fi world.
Lindy@ A Bookish Escape
The mystery and strange hotel setting sound interesting. Too bad the pacing was off, and you didn’t get as much out of the story as you had hoped for.
I like how your reviews are “bullet” points labeled caffeinated aspects and decaffeinated aspects. Very funny.
aww booh, i’m sorry this one does not live up to what it could be ): i was looking forward to it myself.
Tyler H. Jolley
I can’t wait to start this book. It’s everything I love, dystopian, cool setting and a psychological thriller. Thanks for sharing, Kimba!
Thank you for an excellent review – it sounds like this is quite an awkward genre mash-up, because it seems to me that the crime genre pivots around a single murder destabilising a community/the life of a protatonist and solving the crime will resolve things, allowing the world to revert back to being relatively safe. However an apocalyptic scenario means that everyone is at risk, Life becomes innately unsafe and unpredictable and solving a single crime won’t change that… No wonder it proved to have significant problems.
The synopsis really interested me until I read your review. I don’t think this would do it for me either. Sorry it wasn’t better for you.
Tanya @ Girl Plus Books
I came across this one very recently and the synopsis caught my eye. I mean, a combination murder mystery/dystopian? Intriguing. But between the lack of tension and urgency and the slow pacing, I’ll probably pass on this one. Glad you shared your thoughts, Kim!
the body in the hotel water tower sounds familiar to me. i do love psychological thrillers and dystopian novels
Living in a world after a nuclear bomb would be really touch.
Oh no. I hate when a book that is supposed to be fast paced ends up dragging, plus if you can’t get behind the main character, it makes it even harder.
Jonetta (Ejaygirl) | Blue Mood Café
Oh, I was hoping you’d like this more as I have it coming up. Thanks for your very thoughtful review, Kim.
I enjoyed this book but I dont think you should compare anything to The Girl with All the Gifts unless you really mean to hit it out of the park. That is a lofty goal to meet.
Yes, I agree. I went in with high expectations. I am glad you enjoyed it. I did as well otherwise I would have DNF’d.
It’s tricky when it’s labeled something and that it’s not what you expected. Slow is complicated…
Too bad that the pacing was off and some parts dragged and your problems with Jon but nonetheless I as always enjoyed your review!
The premise sounds good. The story seems like it could use a little work where the pacing is concerned. I am sorry this did not live up to your expectations.
Well I was intrigued but not going on my list. I’m curious is this book one of a series or a stand alone Kim?
Genesis @ Whispering Chapters
Dystopian Psych thriller does sound fascinating! It sucks that the suspense aspect of the murder wasn’t there. I mean, that’s what makes a murder mystery, you know? That would’ve bothered me as well as the pace. Good to know you were still able to enjoy it!
Trish @ Between My Lines
While it didn’t fully work for you Kim, I do like the mix of dystopia and thriller. I’m curious and have added it to my to read.
I would love to hear what you think 🙂