Clift has written a book that embraces one of my favourite premises - an apocalyptic road novel. Covid has come and gone in this book, only to be replaced by an even more deadly virus at the end of December 2023. Virus 6DM will kill you in six days maximum. And it seems to have wiped out everyone in Britain - except for one woman.
I know, I know - why would I want to read about a virus? Personally I am always fascinated by an author's imagining of what might be, what might happen and who might be left if the world as we know it ended. Clift's imagining makes for addictive reading.
Our protagonist is never named, yet we come to know her intimately. All alone, she questions if she wants to live or die. She relives her life, questioning and examining her choices, her mistakes, her triumphs, her loves and her losses. What would she have done differently? And what does it matter now? I enjoyed this woman's personal retrospective. I thought Clift did a really great job of depicting this woman. She doesn't snap into uber survivor mode - instead she flounders about. And for me, that made her believable. I was firmly behind her as she makes decisions, both good and bad. One of the really good ideas? A dog. :)
Clift pairs up the personal side of the book with a hefty dose of danger. There were some situations where I broke my cardinal rule - I had to peek ahead to see the outcome and then go back to read the missed pages. I had an inkling about the twist Clift throws in our unnamed woman's path - it was a great addition to the plot. And though you wouldn't expect it - there are humourous moments scattered throughout.
And the ending? Just right - it answered most of my questions, but left me to imagine about a couple. And I loved the publisher's tagline - "The end of everything was her beginning."
A cracking debut and I will be watching for Clift's next novel. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Last One at the Party.