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The Last Days Cover Picture

The Last Days

Scott Westerfeld

Published 2006         257 pages

Summary (from the back cover)

Strange things are happening: people going crazy in the streets, friends disappearing, angels (or devils) clambering on the fire escapes of the city.  But for Pearl, Moz and Zahler, all that matters is their new band.  As the city reels under a mysterious epidemic, they combine their talents with a vampire lead singer and a drummer whose fractures mind can glimpse the coming darkness.  Will their music stave off the end of the world?  Or summon it?

Set against the gritty apocalypse that began in Parasite Positive (or Peeps for US readers), The Last Days is about five teenagers who find themselves creating the soundtrack for the end of the world.

The Review

The Last Days is the follow on novel from Parasite Positive (or Peeps for US readers) and carries on some time after Parasite Positive left off.  The parasitic infection of New York that was starting to spread in Parasite Positive has now reached a critical point and people are starting to notice its effects. The rubbish is piled up in the streets where the refuse collectors dare not go for fear of the plagues of rats and freaky stray cats.  It is not uncommon for people to go missing or mad, or both.

The result of the parasites infection is to send its host mad with a hatred for everything previously loved and an unrelenting hunger for human flesh, side effects include super human strength and a fear of sunlight so it isn’t surprising that these parasite infected cannibals get mistaken for vampires of myth.  There is a secret organisation dedicated to hunting down the infected and treating them, once the parasite is under control the infected are trained into a super human army of soldiers.  These are the soldiers who will battle to save humanity from its ancient underground dwelling foe.

This sounds exciting and it is, only it takes the novel a long time to get there and if you haven’t read Parasite Positive first you aren’t going to realise where the story is going and why either.  The characters from The Last Days are not the same as the ones from Parasite Positive and they are not clued up as to what is happening around them.  They are just a bunch of kids who start a band at a time when the world as they know it is about to end.  The first three quarters of the novel is about being in a band and music, the parasite parts of the story are so low key that if you haven’t read Parasite Positive you could miss them completely.  The seasoned reader knows more about what is lurking in New York and what is coming than the protagonists of the story themselves.

Also, and this is a personal bete-noir of mine, I didn’t like the narrative style either.  The story is told from multiple view points, with all the band members getting to narrate chapters in a random fashion, and I personally find this style confusing and a barrier to character empathy.  I much prefer to bond with one narrator when a story is told in first person.

While Parasite Positive had cross over appeal for the adult market, The Last Days failed to engage this adult reader.  The Last Days is not a bad book but when compared to Parasite Positive it doesn’t hold up well.  I think that any teen who has ever dreamt of being a rock star and being in a band will hugely enjoy this book.  Adult readers looking for vampire horror thrills might want to look else where.

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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