Release Date: January 24th 2019
Publisher: Tinder Press
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.25/5 stars
LAST ONES LEFT ALIVE is the story of Orpen, a young woman who must walk on foot across a ravaged Ireland in the desperate hope of saving herself, and her guardian Maeve, from the zombie-like menace known as the skrake. Sarah Davis-Goff’s strikingly original debut will appeal to readers of dystopian literary fiction such as STATION 11 or THE END WE START FROM.
Watch your six. Beware tall buildings. Always have your knives.
Growing up on a tiny island off the coast of a post-apocalyptic Ireland, Orpen’s life has revolved around physical training and necessity. After Mam died, it’s the only way she and her guardian Maeve have survived the ravenous skrake (zombies) who roam the wilds of the ravaged countryside, looking for prey.
When Maeve is bitten and infected, Orpen knows what she should do – sink a knife into her eye socket, and quickly. Instead, she tries to save Maeve, and following rumours of a distant city on the mainland, guarded by fierce banshees, she sets off, pushing Maeve in a wheelbarrow and accompanied by their little dog, Danger. It is a journey on which Orpen will need to fight repeatedly for her life, drawing on all of her training and instincts. In the course of it, she will learn more about the Emergency that destroyed her homeland, and the mythical Phoenix City – and discover a starting truth about her own identity.
Last Ones Left Alive is a powerful and poignant debut that follows the story of Orpen, a young woman struggling to survive in a zombie infested Ireland. When her guardian Maeve becomes infected, Orpen knows the only outcome, but will she have the strength to survive what comes next?
I was intrigued about reading Last Ones Left Alive after seeing comparisons to The End We Start From by Megan Hunter, a book I absolutely fell in love with. The stories are completely different but they both focus on the themes of family and survival. Last Ones Left Alive is a really thought-provoking book and I really enjoyed reading it. The story is eerie and unsettling, with a very bleak outlook for the future. The skrake (zombies) are terrifying, zombies that are fast and deadly and it was fascinating learning about how a person changes once they become infected.
I really liked the writing style in this book, full of Irish vernacular and written in a really simple and raw way, it was so easy to get lost in the story. It’s not a very long book and I was so intrigued by Orpen and her tale that I read half the book in one sitting. The characters in this book are stunning. Maeve, Orpen and her Mam are fascinating, complex characters that are incredibly well developed. This story is fiercely feminist at its heart, with Orpen and her family surviving on their island without any help.
Last Ones Left Alive crams a lot into a short number of pages, and because of that it is quite a quick paced read. The timeline jumps back and forth between Orpen current day walking across Ireland in search of the illusive Phoenix City and the past when Orpen lived with her Mam and Maeve. It’s a fascinating read and if you love dystopian fiction this could be just what you’re looking for.