Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff Tinder Press March 7th 2019
Remember your Just-In-Cases. Beware Tall Buildings. Watch Your Six
Raised by her mother and Maeve on Slanbeg, an island off the west coast of Ireland, Orpen has a childhood of love and stories by the fireside. But the stories grow darker, and the training begins. Ireland has been devoured by a ravening menace known as the skrake, and though Slanbeg is safe for now, the women must always be ready to run, or to fight.
When Maeve is bitten, Orpen is faced with a dilemma: kill Maeve before her transformation is complete, or try to get help. So Orpen sets off, with Maeve in a wheelbarrow and her dog at her side, in the hope of finding other survivors, and a cure. It is a journey that will test Orpen to her limits, on which she will learn who she really is, who she really loves, and how to imagine a future in a world that ended before she was born.
I’m not a huge fan of dystopian novels but when a novel like Last Ones Left Alive is surrounded by a huge amount of buzz then you know you just have to read it or forever wonder what you missed.
Last Ones Left Alive was not a novel that had much light, its themes were distinctly dark and unsettling but full of strong and what I would only describe as fierce women. None were more fierce or indeed fearless than Orphen, raised by her Mum and Maeve on an island off the coast of Ireland. Her upbringing was definitely not normal as she trained to become an efficient and effective fighter, forced to grow up quickly, and to learn to survive in a desolate, crazed world full of dangerous ‘skrakes’, creatures who would take your soul, your life, as you became one of them.
It was Oprhen’s strength and fierce personality that dominated the novel, yet she wasn’t wholly impenetrable as Davis-Goff gave us glimpses of her emotions and feelings, of her desperation at perhaps being all alone in the world. It was a world where she learnt how to trust, to form relationships, no matter how tenuous, to consider the feelings of others and more importantly to recognise that her own emotions were not necessarily a sign of weakness. It was if Davis-Goff sent her not only on a dangerous mission but also a journey of self discovery, and it was a journey that held me in its grasp. Indeed, it was the strength of women that echoed throughout and I did wonder if Davis-Goff through her writing, was sublimely pushing her own thoughts of the position and role of women in society. It was in no way preachy, or forced on you, it was merely a thought that lingered at the back of your mind as you read.
One thing that you could not get away from was the quality of Davis-Goff’s narrative. It was hard hitting, direct and she was economical with her words, none wasted, all with a purpose, wether that was to delve into the mind of Orphen or to describe the desolate and dangerous landscape she inhabited.
There was little time to draw breath as Orphen fought constant danger, a heightened tension throughout, as you shared and felt the constant dangers Orphen faced. You longed for this young woman to find what she was looking for and in some ways to find happiness and peace, her place in a desolate and lonely world.
You never discovered what catastrophic event occurred to change Orphen’s world and society but that was of no consequence, it was enough to be immersed in her life, in her quest. It was a world I was reluctant to leave and would love to revisit and I dearly hope that at sometime in the future Davis-Goff will revisit this the life of this strong and fierce woman.
I would like to thank Tinder Press for a copy of Last Ones Left Alice to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Sarah Davis-Goff was born and raised in Ireland. After going to college in the US and UK, she eventually returned, and now lives in Dublin. ‘Last Ones Left Alive’ is her debut novel.