‘Last One At The Party’ is the debut novel by Bethany Clift.
The human race has been wiped out by a virus called 6DM (‘Six Days Maximum’ – the longest you’ve got before your body destroys itself). But somehow, in London, one woman is still alive. A woman who has spent her whole life compromising what she wants, hiding how she feels and desperately trying to fit in. A woman who is entirely unprepared to face a future on her own. Now, with only an abandoned golden retriever for company, she must travel through burning cities, avoiding rotting corpses and ravenous rats on a final journey to discover if she really is the last surviving person on earth.
To be honest, when I initially started reading this book, I found it a bit difficult and scary to get into. Thatâ€™s purely because, the story is based around the woman being the sole survivor when an illness wipes out the world and sheâ€™s left alone with only a dog for company. With currently being in a pandemic and I did wonder about the publishers logic with thinking about the release of the book during a pandemic, but on reflection, in comparison to the illness called 6DM, life could be considerably worse.
The story is seen solely through the narrative of a woman, whoâ€™s name is never given as she tries to find civilisation outside London, stealing cars along the way hoping to find more survivors. Instead, she meets a scruffy Golden Retriever called Lucky, who offers her companionship and something to live for, whilst she tries to find a home and food for them.
Bethany is a great writer, sheâ€™s vivid with her descriptions, from the state of the world to the crippling death from 6DM which makes for horrific reading and occasionally I did find myself having to take a break from the gore, even though the sharp and snappy chapters did encourage me to keep going.
The woman has no name in the story, which is interesting as it made her relatable in a sense and it felt like the reader, themselves was the sole survivor. The story is written in past and present tense and this gives background to her and how she has become the woman that she is now. Her battles with mental health, her insecurity and fears and now she has to confront all these fears alone, as she deals with juggling between taking her own life or finding something to live for. Sheâ€™a a strong and determined woman and her strength shines through with each challenge sheâ€™s faced with, when her phone dies, the electricity powers off or when she is faced with killer seagulls. The woman is a witty character and she delivers incredible one linters throughout, injecting some mirth into this dystopian tale.
Addictive, gory and filled to the brim with vomit and diarrhoea, â€˜Last One At The Partyâ€™ is a fantastic debut. Itâ€™s a strangely uplifting and inspiring story about the end of the world that stays with the reader long after they reach the final page.
You can buy ‘Last One At The Party’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.