The realistic rifts between characters, conveyed via broody monologuing from each unique perspective, allow readers to compare each person’s opinions, providing a rich depth of relationships for readers to explore despite the relatively limited core cast. Last Exit has a relentlessly oppressive atmosphere, with the rot barely giving Zelda and her companions room to recover, but the compelling protagonists keep things engaging ... Gladstone avoids in-depth detail, leaving the reader to conceptualize a scene by leaning on their imagination (their spin, you might say) to flesh out the details ... a book enriched through sharing; it’s easy to see a book club discussing their varied interpretations of this phrase ... The beginning of Last Exit feels like the start of an archeologist’s excavation: new clues are popping up in unexpected places and nothing makes sense. But that process of discovery and excavation is where Gladstone’s novel shines, as each chapter revises and adjusts the reader’s understanding. By the end of the book, their individual vision of Gladstone’s world reaches something like clarity, enough for the intrepid archeologist to piece together most of the picture. While not a light undertaking, Last Exit is a satisfying read for those with a lot of imagination—and a little spin.
Gladstone’s thick, brilliant novel is atmospheric, painting tremors around the dark shapes in the corners of our eyes and exploring the concept of constant surveillance and the dangers of seeking rigid control. Last Exit is thoughtful, action-packed, terrifying, and hopeful all at once, and has true, complicated friendships, found family, and queer love at its core. It’s an epic story with a complex, believable cast that asks the reader what it would truly take to find a world that’s better than our own.
... brilliant ... Gladstone weaves magic and mathematics in vivid and poetic prose. There’s a wonderful diversity of characters and relationships, with deep insight on how the characters’ differing traumas and marginalizations influence what they want out of the alternate worlds. The result blends fantasy, horror, and science fiction to produce a stunning, insightful novel that wants a better world just as much as its protagonists do.