Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift

 ‘I need to go back to the beginning.’

November 2023. Humanity is being wiped out. The virus kills people within days. It is called 6DM (Six Days Maximum) …

‘… and it began, not in China or some tiny African village, but almost exactly in the middle of the USA.’

But there is one survivor in London. A woman who somehow is immune. A woman who needs to learn how to negotiate in a world full of rotting corpses that is being taken over by rats. We travel with her as she looks for survivors and learns how to survive in an increasingly hostile world.

Follow our survivor, through the first month of denial (fuelled by drugs and alcohol) and then into a reality where the failure of the electricity grid forces her out of denial into an uncertain future. This is a woman who has spent her life meeting the expectations of others, a woman who needs to work out how to live. And the future?

Yes, I have been reading a lot of dystopian fiction lately. It is how I inoculate myself against our current pandemic reality. Sometimes it helps. This novel captured my attention and held it. At the beginning, I wondered if she would be able to survive, if she would find any other survivors, whether she could find somewhere safe to live. Then, as she started finding her way through each of the challenges, I kept reading to see how (and where) it would end.

Part of this novel are difficult to read: Ms Clift made her dystopian world so awfully real that I was not sure that anyone would want to survive in it.

This is one of the best dystopian novels I’ve read in years, and I recommend it … if you have the stomach for dystopia at present.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith