I read the premise of Sarah Davis-Goff's novel, Last Ones Left Alive, and knew it was one I wanted to read. I picked it up on a snowy Sunday and literally couldn't put it down. Yes, it's that good!
Orpen has been raised by her Mam and Maeve on a deserted island off the coast of Ireland. When she turned seven she started her training. Training to defend herself against the skrake - a threat she's never seen. But as the years pass, Orpen wants to know more. More than the edited version that her Mam and Maeve provide. What's on the mainland? Are there others left?
Davis-Goff tells her story from Orpen's point of view. We meet her in the first chapter, finally on the mainland, pushing Maeve in a wheelbarrow. What led to this point? Where is she going? What will she find? The answers to those questions and more are provided in a past and present narrative. This is a writing device that I really enjoy. Although, it does keep me up very late as I simply can't stop turning pages. I simply need to know what happened and what is happening.
The skrake are the dead, incredibly fast and their bite will kill you. But, there are indeed other humans still left on the mainland. And yes, you guessed it. Their paths will cross with Orpen's. Those scenes, the danger and the uncertainty all make for an action packed read. Davis-Goff has done a fantastic job - the tension is palpable as we travel alongside of Orpen. (And the urge to flip ahead to see if things 'work out' is very hard to deny.)
But along with this, Last Ones Left Alive is a coming of age story, a story of mothers and daughters, a finding of ones own self and purpose. Emotions, interactions, loss, desire and more are woven into Orpen's story and journey.
I mentioned enjoying the imaginings of an author's take on our future. I really enjoyed Davis-Goff's take on what might be left. And how a young woman might find herself and her place in such a world. An excellent, five star read for me. Read an excerpt of Last Ones Left Alive.
"Remember your just-in-cases. Beware tall buildings. Always have your knives."