Tucker's Reviews > The Last

The Last by Hanna Jameson
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really liked it
bookshelves: owned-physical, science-fiction, horror, mystery, thriller, survival, murder, books

Many thanks to David at Atria Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

Is this it? I mean, for humanity. Am I the last person alive making notes on the end of the world? I'm not sure whether I would rather already be dead.

That quote basically sums up this entire book, which is no easy task. Imagine if The Shining, And Then There Were None and A Quiet Place had a baby. That horribly, disturbingly, beautiful hellspawn would be this book. A mess of tears, anger, curiosity that leaves you constantly wanting for more.

So, what's this book about?
This book follows a wide array of characters from different ethnicities and countries. They are all at the Hotel L'Hotel Sixieme for a conference when Washington, DC and the surrounding area is hit by nuclear weapons. As radiation spreads and the world descends into chaos, the folks at the hotel must band together to survive.

Jon - Jon is the main POV, even though this novel doesn't have a set POV. Jon has a lot on his mind as he and his wife, Nadia, haven't left on good terms. The opposite in fact. And when the world comes crashing down around him, he only feels worse and more conflicted. Half of the time, I couldn't decide whether to be rooting for or against him. I felt his pain, fear but also would be yelling things at him.
Me: Jon, don't do that! You'll regret it!
Mom: Who are you talking to?
Me: *sigh* You wouldn't understand

Nadia - I really don't think Nadia could be called a "character". She is actually never seen except in flashbacks and daydreams. I wouldn't include her but that wouldn't feel right because even though she isn't an actual "character", she had a huge effect on the novel, especially Jon. Jon mostly acted one way or another because he wanted to see Nadia again, which was a bit frustrating because I was under the understanding that they were fighting with each other. You can't have your cake and eat it too, Jon.

Nathan - Who? I'm sorry. It's not that he was a bad character. He was just so insignificant that I don't have much to say about him. That said, I feel like he was the only person I saw doing any actual work(?) I don't know. Somehow, he ended up being insignificant and important.

Tomi - By far, Tomi was my favorite character. Terse, badass and strong-willed, she reminded me of myself but with a little more spice. She's one of those characters that, if I were to meet in real life, I would be afraid of. Even so, she was most likely the most helpful in the group, considering she was one of the only ones not afraid to get her hands messy. Although her feminist personality did feel a bit flat or overdramatic at times, I still enjoyed it. I was pleasantly surprised by the aromantic rep! That was very refreshing to read.

Adam - Adam is one of those characters that you can't help but pity. He's just so broken, sad, and afraid. In my opinion, he shouldn't be completely blamed for his flawed decisions. I mean who could honestly say they would handle the end of the world well? I know I couldn't. (P.S. Major TW for suicide and suicide attempts)

Tania - (Quick note, because there are so many characters, I may or may not have Tania mixed up with another character. If I do, just let me know in the comments. Thanks!) Every ending of the world should come with a built-in Grandmotherly character like Tania. I don't know if this was the intended effect but I just felt so at home whenever she was present.

Dylan - Like Nadia, Dylan felt like a plot device. A pawn used to have other characters do dumb sh*t that they wouldn't otherwise do. He was barely present during the whole ordeal. He was on page maybe 5% of the book and thus I never connected to him at all.

Sophia - Again, so many characters, so little time. I can barely keep track of all these g*dd*mn characters. If memory serves me correctly, Sophia was a likable character. That's it. That's all I have to say! Sorry. My mind is a mess lately.

Peter - Peter played a relatively big role in the story so I got plenty of exposure to him. He was relatively level headed. He was a bit rash and poor tempered.

Rob - In my opinion, Rob was the second best character. He and Jon were very close. Rob was quick thinking and very likable. I found myself constantly rooting for him. I wish we could have gotten a little more backstory on him, or most of the characters for that matter.

I think that the synopsis on the cover is a bit misleading. I was expecting this novel to be a little more science fiction but it wasn't. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing but I was still disappointed. I wish we had heard a little more about the radiation and how it affected the characters. We do briefly hear about how the rain was contaminated. We also hear about radiation sickness but there isn't that much detail. Even though this was a world-wide event, it doesn't seem to have much effect on the world. Like, I get that the story isn't meant to be a science fiction thriller but more of a psychological thriller but still I felt mislead. I wish there had been more science. Even when we go bits and pieces of sci-fi, it wasn't much and wasn't always carried out well. Boo!

Like I said earlier, this novel read more like a psychological thriller. I found it really interesting to watch and read about how each person handled the fallout differently. As should be expected, the end of the world has an effect on everyone's psyche. Thus, people do things they wouldn't usually do; Say things they usually wouldn't say. I find it interesting how chaos and pain truly bring out the inner nature of a person. If a person has courage on the inside, that will show. The same is true for those who are greedy or selfish. I, as do many others, like to think that I would save everyone in an act of selflessness. Of course, we humans are not that black and white. Inside all of us is a monster, but next to that monster is a hero.

On that note, it was very interesting to read as things began to spiral out of control. Even better was when some of the more stable souls grabbed control of the situation. Everyone banded together and did their best to keep themselves and everyone else safe and healthy. It warmed my heart to see that even in the worst of situations, with just a little strength and kindness, things can and will get better. It's encouraging to know that, even if this is a fictional novel, the world can be built from the bottom up again.

Another thing that snagged my attention was the era of time in which this novel was set. It's never outright said but it's obviously in the distant future. For me, the confusion came when technology such as computers and mobile phones, were mentioned but also when fairly recent novels, like The Shining and The Handmaid's Tale. So that threw me off as far as time frame goes. Also, the reference to The Shining freaked me the hell out because I read that literally minutes after thinking this book reminds me of The Shining!

The Last mainly takes place in L'Hotel Sixieme. For some reason, I went through the whole book picturing it looking like the Overlook Hotel, even though it is explicitly described otherwise. I loved how the author expertly gave the hotel a creepy, foreboding feel even without seeing it. A combination of creepy sightings, thoughts and whispers created a weird and creepy sense of not knowing what was real and what was imagined. Very well done, Hanna Jameson!

Throughout the whole book, almost every single character deals with their own hallucinations or illusions which we never end up knowing the reality of. This only added to the already high creepiness.

Overall, a very well done psychological thriller. It was very well put together, fast-paced! I enjoyed how it dipped into almost all of my favorite genres. Each and every character felt real and raw. I can't wait to read more from this author!

Bottom Line:
4.5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Age Rating: [ PG-13 ] (For Horror, Sexual Themes, Language, Terror)
TW: Suicide, Homicide, Rape, Cannibalism
Cover: ⅘ ~ Plot: ⅘ ~ Characters: ⅘ ~ Audiobook: ⅘

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Reading Progress

April 17, 2019 – Shelved
April 17, 2019 – Shelved as: review-copies-to-read
April 17, 2019 – Shelved as: owned-physical
April 19, 2019 – Shelved as: review-copies-to-read
April 21, 2019 – Shelved as: science-fiction
April 21, 2019 – Shelved as: horror
April 21, 2019 – Shelved as: mystery
April 21, 2019 – Shelved as: thriller
April 21, 2019 – Shelved as: survival
April 23, 2019 – Started Reading
April 24, 2019 –
1.0% "seriously, this is already feeling like a five star read"
April 24, 2019 –
5.0% "oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhh

Sh*t ~(˘▾˘) ~
(~˘▾˘)~ Is
Going ~(˘▾˘~)
(~˘▾˘)~ Down"
April 24, 2019 –
12.0% "Holy sh*t!! They just referenced the shining which is exactly the book I was comparing this to. Creeeepppy"
April 24, 2019 –
April 25, 2019 – Finished Reading
May 10, 2019 – Shelved as: murder
May 24, 2019 – Shelved as: books

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Gerhard (new) - added it

Gerhard Great review! So a psychological thriller in SF disguise? I'm always skeptical when a writer uses genre tropes as narrative props. Seems disingenuous, somehow. But I am intrigued enough to read this.

Tucker Gerhard wrote: "Great review! So a psychological thriller in SF disguise? I'm always skeptical when a writer uses genre tropes as narrative props. Seems disingenuous, somehow. But I am intrigued enough to read this."

Thank you, Gerhard! Yes, it's more of a thriller than a science fiction novel. There are a couple tropes but no too many. I highly recommend it!

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