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Last Last Chance

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  198 ratings  ·  43 reviews
"Last Last Chance," Fiona Maazel's first novel, is one of the most distinctive debuts of recent years: a rollicking comic tale about (in no particular order) plague, narcotics recovery, and reincarnation.
A lethal strain of virus vanishes from a lab in Washington, D.C., unleashing an epidemic--and the world thinks Lucy Clark's dead father is to blame. The plague may be the
Hardcover, 337 pages
Published March 18th 2008 by Farrar Straus Giroux
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3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  198 ratings  ·  43 reviews

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May 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Though not the typical type of book I pick up, Fiona Maazel's debut is definitely going on my list of top fiction books. It's a good book to start with, but considering it's a debut, I'm that much more impressed.
The first thing that struck me is the depth of Maazel's characters. The protagonist, Lucy, spends the length of the novel dealing with the suicide of her father, her social standing as an outcast, and her drug addictions. Her family members- a crack addict mother, a fundamentalist siste
Feb 21, 2011 rated it did not like it
Last Last Chance is about Lucy, who is a drug addict. Her dad worked for the CDC creating the plague. When a vial goes missing her dad is accused of stealing it. The world is waiting to see if the plague will be released when we start the story.

I love books about plague, or the apocalypse in general so I was really looking forward to reading this. But it wasn't actually about the plague. It was about an insufferable drug addict who just keeps using drugs and making excuses for it. That's not a r
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-literary
Last Last Chance is a terrific and moving book. There is something about Fiona Maazel's novels that make me want to interpret and dissect. I suppose I feel that way about every novel I read, but instead of an underlying need this book and Woke Up Lonely both bring that simmer to a boil. It's because there's so much going on in her writing; she doesn't spoon feed everything to the reader. It means it can be complex at times, and requires some effort and trust, but I think that trust is earned a ...more
Jul 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With the news filled with talk of the swine flu, Fiona Maazel's debut novel Last Last Chance, and its storyline of the release of a superplague, seems prescient.

Lucy is a thirty-year-old drug addict with six failed rehab stints behind her. Her mother is a wealthy business owner and crack addict, her twelve-year-old half sister dabbles in disease, cutting herself and fundamental Christianity, and her scientist father committed suicide after a deadly superplague created in the government lab where
Jul 15, 2008 rated it it was ok
Lucy's life is not exactly what she imagined for herself by the time she turned 30. She is a drug-addict working in a chicken plant; her rich mother is a crackhead; her father who previously worked for Centers for Disease Control commit suicide, most likely after the outbreak of the superplague is blamed on him; her 12-year-old half-sister, Hannah, is obsessed with disease; and she has an obsession with her best friend's new husband, Eric, whom Lucy knew and loved first. She is, in other words, ...more
Jan 05, 2009 added it
Shelves: interviewees
Read the STOP SMILING interview with Last Last Chance author Fiona Maazel:


Fiona Maazel, whose first novel, Last Last Chance, was published in March by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, thinks her résumé is a bit boring. She obtained her BA at Williams College and her MFA at Bennington. Interned at The Paris Review in the summer of 1997; served as managing editor, 2003-2005. Received a Lannan Fellowship for Fiction in 2005. Has contributed t
Rachel Knickmeyer
Jul 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I was actually somewhat leery of this book based on the description. It felt as if there would be too much going on for it to ever come together into a meaningful whole. Norse mythology, drug addiction, a super plague, radical fundamentalism and teenage angst. A lot of quirky characters that could easily have over powered each other. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the novel came together somehow managing to balance all these things relatively neatly and presenting a main ...more
I used the "science-fiction" tag because it seemed appropriate for a novel about the outbreak of a superplague that steadily makes its way across the U.S. towards the protagonist, but Fiona's storytelling most reminds of the not-quite-science-fiction worlds of Ted Mooney novels, or a slightly more accelerated version of the "mainstream" books William Gibson has been doing recently like Pattern Recognition and Spook Country. (The acknowledgments at the back of the book cite Jim Shepard; you might ...more
Bud Mallar
Jun 16, 2013 rated it liked it
well, I'm not sure what to say. Another book where the current novel is getting rave reviews so I went back to the early books by the author.

Perhaps some humor would have helped in this supposedly humorous book, but I didn't get it.

Every character is badly flawed, failing, and doesn't seem to give a shit.

Perhaps, one could argue, that Lucy still believes, and at times you get a sense of hope.

Perhaps better to think about some of the themes raised in the book - drugs, old age, plague and other fu
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I find myself only writing reviews for books I enjoy, and Last Last Chance is definitely one of those books. There's a lot going on in it: drug abuse, strained family dynamics, cross country travel, rehab, reincarnation, spurned love, and, of course, a flu-like epidemic that threatens to end all human life as we know it. Strange and disparate as all of these elements may be, they come together in the form of a solid story about a young woman who both wants and does not want to get her life and h ...more
May 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like it. The tension of such a dysfunctional family who share drug abuse, escapism, and a super plague threatening to kill all of mankind. Mixed in with everything is wonderful prose and humor. The characters are real and could be any of us. I'm anxious to finish it.
I'm finished and I have to say that I enjoyed the last third of the book much more than the beginning. Maybe because I was able to truly give my attention to it. Even the reincarnation scenes were much more effortless in the last
Jan 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
Kind of a hectic tale about a crackhead daughter of a crackhead who lives in NYC...Brooklyn? Although these people are addicts, it is clear that they are not public about their drug use. They enjoy inhabiting a niche of middle class city society complete with brie and crudite parties on occasion. Combines a know-it-all and world weary young woman's introspections and observations of her peers, surroundings, and family, with an ominous allusion to pending plague of illness befalling the nation. P ...more
Jennifer Arnold
May 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
This was, uh, weird. My judgement on the 'quirky but good' front seems to be way off these days (see Arsonist's Guide). It's the story of Lucy, an addict who's father may or may not have released a superplague from his laboratory, and her family - her wealthy crack-addict mom (hey, she makes her own!), her grandmother, and her 12 year old half-sister (a product of Dad's affair)- as she attempts to get clean, take care of her sister, and deal with the likely spread of the superplague. It had its ...more
Apr 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
I have been following @picadorUSA on Twitter for awhile now, and this was one of the books they offered free copies of for the 140 character book club. I'm really glad I discovered Maazel's quirky first novel even if it was a rather unconventional way. Last Last Chance is not an easy read but it was a rewarding one. I found the characters to be believable and even a bit likeable despite their many flaws. Maazel has a fantastic imagination and brings a lot of unique elements together into one coh ...more
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
I could have put this down at any time; still not sure why I kept with it since I knew early on that I was hating it. Hated the characters, hated the writing style, hated the weird reincarnation chapters. I can kinda sorta see how someone could like it; it's not bad per se, it's just not for me. This is also the second book I've read recently where a thirty something woman spends years pining away for an old boyfriend, which is something I just cannot stand. I know I'm unsentimental in this way, ...more
Mar 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Typically not my kind of book. Too, Chuck for me. And god, I hate Chuck.

But although the writing was similar, there was something immensely different. I found myself, by the end of the novel, very connected to all of the characters in a very real way. Which is not what you would expect with this almost frenetic prose. "I don't know how I feel about this," ran through my mind the entire way through the book. But by the end I knew there would always be a special place in my heart for Lucy, Stanle
May 20, 2008 added it
Shelves: abandoned
David really enjoyed this, and finished it quickly. I've been "reading" it for two months, got through about 10 chapters, and finally put it back on the shelf. I just couldn't get into it. I hate having to make an "abandoned" category -- what sad images of water-logged, discarded books it conjures! -- but I don't know that I care to return to this one. He can give this one to his sister and I won't mind (unlike the others that have "disappeared" from the shelves). It insists my books retain a re ...more
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Although this is not my kind of read, I completed it. The story mirrors our current situation with Ebola outbreaks in the US.

A family is accused, tortured and humidified for releasing a deadly virus. The story covers the dysfunction within the family and society and the addiction that ruins and strengthens it.

A good read for this time, otherwise I would pass on it.
Erika Sajdak
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The surrealism of this book cannot be overrated! Despite the disturbing subject matter, the apocalyptic events, and the instability of the narrator, the writing draws you into the world that circles the drain in concentric circles of devotion.
I ended up loving every character and wishing for more from this fantastic author!
Elizabeth Gillingham
Aug 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
It was slow going at first but around page 150 I started to really enjoy it. I believe the author shows a substantial amount of promise, but i felt too much of an observer while reading this, I didn't really care all that much about the characters. Not that I need to to enjoy a book, by any means. However, I think Maazel wanted me to, and this is where the problem lies.
Beth Anne
i am giving this book two stars. initially.

i just finished it, and i think i need to digest a bit before i write my review.

i will say, the author does a good job of making weird and rather unlikeable characters sympathetic and funny and worthy of reading about.

i want to revisit this review later.

Jun 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Noreen by: a Sargent Prize submission
The writer is the conductor Lorin Maazel's daughter.

Her quirky sense of humor and feeling for language make this debut novel an interesting and ultimately moving read.

And I love her website. Click on the bio "dot" on it to play the video and you'll see why.
May 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Randomly picked up this book. Was a little hard to get into, but then ended up keeping me reading 'til the end . She's a good writer, liked the character development. Weird to be reading it - about spread of superplague across US - during the swine flu scare. But it's not really sci-fi and about plague. Hard to classify.
Joan Colby
Jul 03, 2016 rated it did not like it
I chose to read this book based on a quirky short story by Maazel that I liked, but quirkiness in a novel quickly grows tiresome. Part dystopian, part drug culture, the novel tries for humor, but misses the mark for me anyway.
Dec 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is one of those novels that needs to simmer. Ripen. Percolate. Okay..I think you get the point. At first I felt annoyed and contemplated stopping reading. I persevered and ended up truly enjoying it.
May 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
Beside the fact that I began reading this book about a super plague right before the swine flu hit, I found the story pretty boring. The book pretty much plodded along. Maybe I just don't "get" being an addict.
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a quirky, funny/tragic, enjoyable read about a multi-tiered near apocalypse. At every level - literal, physical, emotional, relational - every character walks a thin line across a vast chasm of chaos. Consistent with the rest, the book concludes with a fragile note of hope.
Apr 04, 2008 rated it did not like it
Ugh. If you can't decide whether to read a zombie novel, chick lit, or rehab memoir; and you want something that combines the worst of all three, written in a whiney OMG vernacular, this book is for you.
Jun 14, 2009 rated it did not like it
I'm almost finished so I will probably finish but I don't really care how it ends.

ETA: Nope, I couldn't do it. Ugh.

The chapters from different perspectives are schlocky and sloppy. There's too much going on. The main love story can go nowhere. Yuck.
Jan 22, 2009 marked it as abandoned
There was a mention of something plague, but right now we're dealing with an addict and the all important issue of a date for a wedding, which is irking me, and I don't have the patience to work through the idiosyncratic first person narration to get to the plague.
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Fiona Maazel is the author of the novels LAST LAST CHANCE (FSG, 2008), WOKE UP LONELY (Graywolf, 2013) and A LITTLE MORE HUMAN (Graywolf 2017). She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
“What greater stimulus to ambition than the promise that the goals of which we dream, the nobility of spirit to which we aspire, the indwelling of gods and the radiance of their power, are but waiting to be discovered in the consciousness of man? Play the harp enough times, an angel you become. This, at any rate, is what the handbook says.” 0 likes
“I like the way he says we and am amazed, as I often am by language as power, at the way a simple pronoun can upend a relationship.” 0 likes
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