Last Ones Left Alive is the story of Orpen, a young woman who must walk on foot across a ravaged Ireland in the desperate hope of saving herself, and her guardian Maeve, from the zombie-like menace known as the skrake.
Sarah Davis-Goff’s Last Ones Left Alive sits uneasily between science fiction and horror, which places it in an ideal place to offer readers a harrowing vision of the near future ... Last Ones Left Alive can at times feel like a distinctly feminist, Irish spin on Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. Both books explore the psychology of a lone protagonist who has to deal with the fractured remains of humanity; both books explore the effect of hunting monsters on their protagonist’s soul. Davis-Goff tells a taut and harrowing story here, but it’s also one that allows for moments of hope. In an era of fiction that embraces bleakness, this novel’s suggestion that all may not be lost comes as a hard-fought and resonant statement of humanism, even when humanity can seem lost.
That Orpen’s childhood is the most idyllic part of the narrative says much about the brutal world of Last Ones Left Alive. A story of a young woman’s survival against an army of zombie-like creatures known as skrakes, the book has strong feminist overtones and a style that places it in the crossover genre of adult and young adult readers. This comes through in the prose, which is clear and visual and seeks to show through example the almost impossible odds stacked against the heroine ... The author excels at macabre detail...Davis-Goff blends narrow and wide lens writing to good effect ... Davis-Goff...is particularly good at writing violence ... Orpen is an admirably fierce heroine, and not just in her physicality.
Sarah Davis-Goff has Orpen inform us regularly that the world she moves through is 'beautiful', but there’s so little specific texture that it could be anywhere. It’s a shame, because the force of a post-apocalyptic novel lies largely in how vividly it evokes the things we have to lose ... Although Last Ones Left Alive courts comparison with Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven, it doesn’t deliver that novel’s transcendent sense of art’s absurd persistence. It lacks the extinctionist glee of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy. Nor is there much new here in terms of zombie lore, although there’s a sequel still to come, and perhaps Davis-Goff has bigger plans to unveil ... Last Ones Left Alive doesn’t bring much new to its genre. Instead, it puts old elements to its own purpose; and, like the skrake, it runs compellingly enough to an irresistible internal logic of violence.