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Title: The Last
Author: Hanna Jameson
Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: April 9, 2019
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.78
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 goes black—and before the clouds on the horizon turn orange.
Now, two months later, there are twenty 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?
Jon is staying at a hotel in Switzerland when nuclear war breaks out. The hotel is in a remote enough location that the employees and guests of the hotel are safe from the bombs, but cut off from society. Some people from the hotel decide to leave and find their way home, but Jon and 20 or so others remain at the hotel. After a couple of months in the hotel, the water pressure starts to disappear. While investigating the cause, the body of a young girl is found. Jon takes it upon himself to find out what happened to the girl, and he becomes obsessed with identifying the killer. Meanwhile, supplies decrease and tensions between the hotel residents increase.
Jon is an American visiting Switzerland for an academic conference. The novel is told from his point of view using a diary/journal style. Jon and his wife have a troubled marriage, and he feels guilty for how he left things with her. Part of his behavior is a result of his guilt, and his need to make things right.
We never know much about the attacks, just that various cities in the United States and Europe have been bombed. After the attacks, communication (i.e., internet access) is mostly lost. The hotel has resources, so they have basics like food, water, and shelter. It would have been nice to know a little more about the attacks, but that is not the primary focus of the story. The relationships between the survivors is the focus, and is very realistic. The hotel residents are varied in their nationalities, backgrounds, beliefs, and personalities. This seems accurate, and creates a lot of conflict.
This novel is more of a character study, and not a lot of action takes place. Based on the book description, I was expecting more mystery than is delivered. Still, the characters and their interactions were believable and interesting.
Fantastic setting. Interesting characters. Slow paced. Good for fans of apocalyptic stories with a little mystery.
Fun fact: My family and I were vacationing in Hawaii when we received a notification about a ballistic missile threat, so the whole finding out about the end of the world in a notification on your phone is kind of realistic.
I heard about this book from fellow book blogger Amy Sullivan @ Novel Gossip. Thank you for recommending this book and sending me the Netgalley widget!