Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift

My Five Word TL/DR review : Horrible, Darkly Humorous, Brilliant, Emotional

LastoneThis is going to be a fairly quick review because I basically don’t want to give away too much about the story.  To be honest I had reservations when it came to reading this, which may seem strange as I did request it, but given the current situation (you know what I’m talking about right now, just picture me waving my arms around crazily) and the fact that we’re yet again in the middle of a lockdown (thank you Covid), reading a book about something that seems remarkably similar to the current situation, not to mention is set in a very close possible future – come on, it’s a bit scary.  I had doubts but as soon as I started to read, the doubts were put to one side.  The main character is a great story teller and you simply can’t help becoming involved in her story.

Like I mentioned, this is set in a very near future.  Couple of years from now. Covid happened, not sure lessons were learned but now, we have a new virus – and it’s not taking prisoners.

So, this novel is refreshingly different – and I will explain why.  Told by one woman as she journeys on a road to self discovery.  We pretty soon find out that 6DM has swept across the world leaving death in its wake.  Why 6DM?  Basically, this is a virus that takes six days maximum to kill.  Within fairly short order life as we know breaks down.  And this is where the difference sets in.  Apart from an initial little blip there’s no rampaging around, no scrabbling for food, no scavengers turning cannibalistic, there’s also no electricity, no gas, no water, nobody taking care of the usual things that we take for granted.  6DM kills quickly, people don’t have time to go through the usual emotions, anger, panic, etc.  they die and they die quickly and they haven’t the energy to do anything towards survival other than giving in to a basic instinct to be with loved ones.  There’s no time for solutions or vaccinations and so the best that the government can come up with is a, well, suicide pill to help people achieve a speedier and more comfortable end. Yes, of course that sounds bleak – but, allow me to continue.

We have our nameless woman.  I confess I was scratching my head there for a moment and trying to figure out her name – basically we don’t find out her name so don’t sweat it.  For some reason, and no explanations are given, this one woman survives and what follows are the emotions that she goes through coming to terms with the death of her husband, her parents and her best friends. I mean, I can see why you might think this would be depressing but in fact the story is well told, gripping, funny (if you will), sad, a little bit horrible at times, not to mention a little bit horrific on occasion and at the same time strangely uplifting.  Of course it’s not very nice reading about an event that virtually wipes out  everyone on the face of the planet, but watching the gamut of emotions that she goes through is just crazily compelling and, at the same time, the story is given some relief by the constant flashbacks that help to fill out the reader’s knowledge of the survivor prior to this.  Having these flashbacks is such a cunning concept because it takes us to places pre-insanity.  Gives us a break of sorts and explains our main character’s pov.

And the simplicity of it all works well.  There’s no threat here for the woman.  She drives from place to place, stays in hotels, drinks a lot of expensive booze – a lot.  Throws herself a pity party and ends up addicted to drugs.  Then she eventually starts to wizen up. The other cunning element that also plays into the simplicity here is that no explanations are forthcoming.  We all know pandemics are a very real possibility and all the author does here is ratchet that up to the next horrific level and of course it seems plausible.  We don’t need the science.  We also don’t know why this young woman has survived – again, no explanations, but for me, this lack of some kind of over the top explanation works well.  She doesn’t know why she survived so we, the readers, also don’t know why she survived.  It really is that simple.

Now, before you become too complacent there are still threats here but they come under different guises and I’m not going to be the one to give them away.  Find out for yourself. Also, there is a little bit of gore – well, there are a lot of bodies decomposing after all.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I loved the tone, the style, the writing and the voice – but, I felt like the ending was a little rushed.  There was an element of our pov discovering things very quickly and becoming an expert in many things with remarkable speed given her previous ineptitude.  I think I would have preferred a slower ending, a few more bumblings and an ending where she might not be an expert, but is still learning on the fly.  Not a deal breaker though.

Basically, this was quite addictive.  I loved the way it’s written and I must applaud the author for not only dispelling my misgivings but also providing a compelling read with a likeable character who is very easy to become attached to (which is pretty lucky as she is the only character in the story.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars

12 Responses to “Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift”

  1. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Haha, I love books where you can’t really talk much about the plot in case you accidentally reveal too much, because those are always the wildest stories. I don’t know if this one would be for me though, sounds a bit too strange!

    • @lynnsbooks

      To be fair, it’s not really strange in many ways, and it’s quite different from other books of this nature that I’ve read before. It really is focused on the one person and her struggles, but it’s made really readable by the narrators voice. There are funny moments and sad moments, some horrifying, some startling but overwhelmingly you can’t help getting behind her and wanting her to be okay. It is unusual but also quite addictive. I think it would be excellent in audio given the right narrator.
      Lynn 😀

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    In another time I would have grabbed this one without a single thought, but now? I’m not so sure… There seem to be a good number of new books focused on pandemics, and I wonder if it’s a Covid-related trend, or if I did not notice before because there was no stark reality reminding us that pandemics are not confined to fiction…
    Still, I will keep this one in mind for… better times 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      The author wrote a foreword explaining how and when she came up with the idea – Covid then happened, and so she also makes reference to it in the story. What I really liked about this is the voice. You’re following one person’s story and struggles to cope and stay, not alive so much, but motivated to keep on going. It’s just so very different than anything I’ve read before.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Tammy

    I’ve never heard of this but if you loved a pandemic story in the middle of a pandemic, I’ll definitely consider it😁

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s the voice tbh. You get very caught up in her story, how she’s surviving and coping. It’s quite addictive.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Lexlingua

    Well, I saw mention of 6DM and shuddered already. Don’t think I can handle more of viruses. But you also described the book as brilliant and darkly humorous — interesting blend! I guess you have to read the book to fully appreciate the style

    • @lynnsbooks

      To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to it what with Covic but it just hooked me.
      Lynn 😀

  5. waytoofantasy

    I’m really fascinated by your review, Lynn! I hadn’t heard of this one but I think I’ll be adding it to my TBR, I do love a good near future story, especially one that’s about survival.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, this was quite different than I expected and considering I didn’t have the greatest expectations it really won me over.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Last One to the Party by Bethany Clift […]

  7. Emma James

    I really enjoyed your review of this. I keep seeing lots of positive reviews but I hate to say it, I didn’t love it. I wish I did because I know how much effort authors put into their books. Maybe I’ve missed the point of it entirely, I don’t know but everyone else seems to have loved it haha. Am glad you enjoyed it anyway and great review.

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