Title: Last Ones Left Alive
Author: Sarah Davis-Goff
Remember your just-in-cases. Beware tall buildings. Always have your knives.
Raised in isolation by her mother and Maeve on a small island off the coast of a post-apocalyptic Ireland, Orpen’s life has revolved around training to fight a threat she’s never seen. More and more she feels the call of the mainland, and the prospect of finding other survivors.
But that is where danger lies, too, in the form of the flesh-eating menace known as the skrake.
Then disaster strikes. Alone, pushing an unconscious Maeve in a wheelbarrow, Orpen decides her last hope is abandoning the safety of the island and journeying across the country to reach the legendary banshees, the rumored all-female fighting force that battles the skrake.
But the skrake are not the only threat…
Sarah Davis-Goff’s Last Ones Left Alive is a brilliantly original imagining of a young woman’s journey to discover her true identity.
My first read of 2020, and what a great way to start!
I’m not usually big on post-apocalyptic stories, but I do love the concept in movies. So when I saw that this one was being compared to 28 Days Later (a personal favorite) I didn’t think twice.
The story follows Orpen, a young woman who was born into this post-apocalyptic setting and doesn’t know anything else. Despite this, she had what most would consider a normal upbringing – two parents, daily chores, and a generally sheltered life. It’s not until she gets a little older that she starts to see the world for how it is, to yearn for more, and to discover that things are much worse than the women who raised her would let her know. When tragedy leaves Orpen alone, she’s left to face the grim reality of the world with nowhere she can call home or even remotely safe.
Though there’s no shortage of zombie-fighting action in this one, the book is more of an exploration of Orpen as a person as she reminisces on her life and searches for new meaning. It’s a thoughtful, enticing read that pulls you in and refuses to let you go. You can’t help but root for Orpen, despite shaking your head at the mistakes she makes. She has such a distinct, captivating voice that makes it difficult not to love her, and to feel what she feels. It’s not often I feel so attached to a character, like she’s someone I met rather than read about – that’s how good the voice in this book is. The writing is beautiful, the story is more than a little heartbreaking, and it’s all underlined with a strange sense of hope for the future – hers and that of the other characters’ too.
All in all a great read. I’m definitely glad I picked this one as my first of the year. Here’s to more great reads in 2020!