The year is 2059 and the Earth has ceased orbiting the sun; an event that has become known as the Stop. Half the world burns in never-ending sunlight, whilst the other freezes under the cover of darkness. A thin slither of the globe that exists in permanent twilight has managed to survive. Within this small area lies Britain; under Prime Minister Davenport it is a country that has done monstrous things to preserve its resources, block its borders, and continue in some semblance of normalcy.
Off the coast in the North Atlantic, scientist Ellen Hopper receives a letter from her formerly revered mentor, Edward Thorne. He is dying, an old man now, but before he goes he needs her to know something. Hopper must break all the rules in order to discover the truth, but there are many who would sooner see her dead than have her find out what Edward Thorne is desperate for her to know.
… in the regions facing out towards the universe rather than in towards the sun … nothing except thousands of miles of frozen fields and mountains and plains, interrupted by cities and towns populated by the dead.
I loved the premise of this book; it was something I had never encountered before and it definitely played on my fears about the climate emergency. I know that real life climate change isn’t going to stop the Earth from orbiting the sun (or maybe it will, who knows?!), but the idea of extreme weather conditions is definitely something we can already see and realistically imagine getting worse in the future. However, what I really liked about the premise of The Last Day is how it showed these changes in climate affecting international relations and mass migration; topics which ‘climate terror’ stories I’ve encountered previously seem to ignore, instead focussing on the micro rather than the macro. It was really interesting to consider what reactions these circumstances would prompt on a global scale and scarily felt quite prophetic.
Whilst I really enjoyed exploring the mechanics of this new future Britain, I just wish the scope had been wider. The book certainly ends with the potential for a sequel or even a series, in which I would hope we would see more about how other countries had coped with the Stop, or a closer encounter with the Breadbasket; an area of Europe which has become a dumping ground for criminals who labour away in appalling conditions to provide Britain with food, but is never really fully realised in my opinion, despite being mentioned numerous times. I felt that the world-building definitely could have gone that little bit further. Saying that, it’s made me eager to read any potential sequels that follow The Last Day.
I liked Hopper’s doggedness and determination, and enjoyed seeing her reconnect with her ex-husband, David, during her quest to discover what it was Thorne was so desperate for her to know. There were not many other characters that really stood out to me though, and I felt that Thorne and Davenport were particularly flat. They’re rarely, if at all, ‘on screen’ as it were, but considering that the plot really revolves around their shared history I felt I knew so little about them both. There were moments when I felt like they were about to be delved into more and then the subject changed. It seemed that there were a few underdeveloped moments for both Thorne and Davenport, but again, this could be explored further in a sequel.
I don’t want to sound like I didn’t enjoy The Last Day, because I really did. It was exciting, scary, and gripping, but it didn’t hit all the marks for me. The crux of my problem with The Last Day is that I wanted so much more from it. It is one of the few books that I wish had taken things slower and been about 100 pages longer. That said, it’s a fast-paced read with an original premise and I’d definitely pick up any sequels that may follow.
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
The Last Day is out now.
*I received a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*