The Last – Hanna Jameson

41132572Jon Keller was on a trip to Switzerland when the world ended. Without phone service or an internet connection, he doesn’t know whether his wife and kids survived. He and the other people remaining in his hotel wait for help that never comes. Then, one day, the body of a little girl is found. It’s clear she’s been murdered, so Jon decides to investigate. Is one of his fellow survivors a killer?

I really loved the idea of this book: A murder mystery set during the end of the world. And it turned out to be even better than I expected. The murder mystery aspect gets quite a lot of attention towards the beginning of the book, but then it does sort of drop away and become about the character’s survival in the months after the world has ended. Which is totally fine by me, because it turns out I love apocalyptic fiction.

Jon isn’t always the most likeable character, but he feels very real. The story is told from his point of view, as a kind diary of events because he’s a historian and he feels someone should write down a record of the end of the world. The first-person narrative was really effective in this context. There’s also quite a good range of other characters to fill out the story – all of whom can be believed to be surviving an apocalypse.

The Last is a really solid, well-written piece of fiction. I enjoyed every page.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Sea of Rust – C. Robert Cargill

32617610.jpgThirty years since the humans lost the war against artificial intelligence, not a single human remains. But the robots do not live in peace. Two powerful supercomputers wage war against each other, absorbing free robots into enormous networks known as One World Intelligences (OWIs). Brittle is one such free-bot fighting to remain autonomous, picking apart robot carcasses in the sea of rust to find the parts she needs to survive.

Post-apocolyptic, robot stories are not uncommon, but Sea of Rust somehow manages to bring something fresh to the genre. The personalities of the robots are complex and engaging (my favourite: the Cheshire King), bringing humour and tenderness to an otherwise quite dark story.

The AIs did appear to be surprisingly unintelligent. In a world inhabited entirely by robots, it didn’t make that much sense that they didn’t manufacture new parts themselves, or that they didn’t all reach the same calculated conclusions on how to live peacefully. On the whole, they acted an awful lot like the humans they had wiped out.

Other than that, the story (in my opinion) was very well thought out and believable. Every element of the story of the destruction of humanity and the rise of the robots makes complete sense and is entirely (and rather scarily) plausible. It is only the robot’s failure to survive afterwards that didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

There is a lot of action and drama. Sea of Rust would make an excellent movie.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Space Between the Stars – Anne Corlett

30981910After a deadly virus has hit Earth and spread to the surrounding colonies, Jamie finds herself completely alone. A distorted message from Earth gives her hope that someone from her past might still be alive. Determined to get back to Earth and find out, she finds other survivors and embarks on a journey to get back home.

This is quite an unusual post-apocalyptic story. It’s about survivors travelling towards somewhere, although they’re not entirely sure where. Some of them are looking for somewhere to start over, one is looking for a loved one, others are just making the journey because they don’t have anything else to do. It explores themes of belief and religion, in an end-of-world setting.

The characters are quite mixed. We have a vet, a preacher, a scientist, a prostitute, an autistic boy, an engineer and a captain. Along the way, they meet desperate men, those in charge, period enactors, and a girl who would rather communicate online. Many different perspectives are explored, and it is very interesting.

However, the main character was extremely dislikeable and she made the book quite painful to read at times.

It is an interesting and thought-provoking book but could have benefitted from less focus on the main character’s personal relationships.

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Hunted – GX Todd

34209822In book #2 of The Voices series, it seems everyone is searching for Lacey. Albus, a man with no voice of his own, is led by the voice of his lost sister with one goal: find and protect the martyr. He and his friends must find her, before anyone else does. Before Posy, and the evil voice inside him – The Other – can.

This series is so good, omg. I can’t even tell you. I’ve seen surprisingly few post-apocalyptic books around recently, and The Voices is based on a really scary and interesting concept: voices in our heads that caused humanity to break down and drove huge numbers of people to kill themselves. It is terrifying and super interesting.

But not only is the concept great, so is the story. I was a tiny bit disappointed at first that the story wasn’t being told from Lacey’s point-of-view (like book #1 is), but after a while, I realised that this was actually a good thing. Firstly, it gave the book a fresh angle. Secondly, I got a bit of a YA vibe from Defender, although it isn’t a YA book. This time, that vibe was gone. I think this was down to the story being told from the point of various adults so, as much as I love Lacey, that teen-vibe was gone – which, for this kind of book, was a good thing.

The characters in this book are just fantastic. Lacey and Voice in particular, but every single character (even the awful, mean ones) bring important something to the story. Also – no spoilers – but EEK big news regarding one of my other favourite characters! Book #3 right now please!!

Basically, you have to read this book.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Defender- G X Todd

29758033In a world where the voices inside people’s heads lead to mass suicide and murder, the few that are left struggle to survive. A lone traveller comes across a young girl selling lemonade at the edge of the road. That chance meeting joins the pair together in an epic journey facing horror and violence, friendship and family, and the voices in our heads.

I am a big fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, and Defender is up there with the best. It isn’t as dark or emotional as the likes of The Road, but doesn’t sugar-coat the horror aspects either. It actually has quite a YA vibe, with a strong female heroine and playful relationships between characters, but then some very violent aspects which make it difficult to put into the YA genre. (An aspect I particularly enjoyed was the lack of romance. Romance following an apocalypse always seems absurd and unnecessary to me, but for some reason so many authors feel the need to put it in. Not Todd – thank goodness!)

I really liked both Lacey and Pilgrim. And the bad guys were good bad guys (if you get what I mean: they were evil and scary without being caricatures). I felt Alex was a bit superfluous, but I imagine she’ll be built up more in the next book. After all, this is only Book #1.

Defender is well-written, intelligent and completely absorbing. The story is heading in a really interesting direction, with lots of unanswered questions and a really well set up plot for the rest of the series, so I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book. Without giving away too much, I can tell you there are some serious ‘NOOOO!’ moments. I’m still in recovery.

The Road – Cormac McCarthy

mWPdBnv10I_Xx0KkH_pFMfAI just finished The Road and I am an emotional wreck. This is the harrowing story of a man and his son travelling across post-apocalyptic America, just trying to survive. There are some horrifying moments involving cannibals and corpses, alongside the truly moving relationship between a father and son.

This book has a unique style, beautifully written in a continuous stream following the journey of the man and the boy. The Road shows instances of humanity at its best and at its worst, in a disturbingly possible future. It is recommended that this book is read in one sitting, but I had no trouble putting it down and coming back to it later. The writing style is very easy to get back into and the story itself is gripping (putting it down was much harder than picking it back up).

This is not in any way a light read but, despite the utter devastation and misery, there is always a thread of hope for the characters and for humanity as a whole which you’ll find yourself clinging to while you read. Prepare to be traumatised in the best way possible.