Review of The Last Resort

The Last Resort by Susi Holliday

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Last Resort is not unlike an episode of Black Mirror – a show referenced throughout the novel. Susi Holliday has written an entertaining short fiction with a few decent twists. However, the characters are shallowly defined. The author’s decision to centre each chapter on an individual’s perspective, while intriguing and offering an opportunity to get to know each, in turn, keeps the narrative going but doesn’t lend to more profound character development.

The jacket notes describe this novel as a survival adventure involving 6 strangers flown to an island where each is challenged by the revelation of their deepest secrets. The tale is well-paced and keeps the reader engaged. The premise is promising – technology, intrigue and a diverse set of characters. There are flashbacks intended to only become coherent once we reach the end of the adventure. The basic story of the entwined lives of the participants sustains the reader, but the conclusion is ultimately unsatisfying. The buildup, the reveals, the twists, the tension, are all well sprung, but the conclusion seems like the author simply ran out of steam. There’s a lot of ‘Last Resorts’ out there and frankly, the rather hackneyed turn of phrase in choice or title speaks volumes. The outcomes teach us no real lesson, nor draws together the life experiences of the participants. Given that the author is familiar with Black Mirror, one would hope that there might be some thought-provoking question posed and explored. The potential of neurological ‘trodes that stimulate thoughtful recollection, for example, or the use of hallucinogenic drugs that allow for self-stimulated alternated realities are promising but unrealised.

The novel is a reasonable read, and I am not unsatisfied to have spent the time. However, I do feel that there is some potential unrealised in the delivery of this novel. The characters drawn from diverse backgrounds could allow for teasing out deeper connections to their ultimates fates or possible reflections on the main protagonist’s understandings of her own life trajectories. The intriguing devices introduced raise questions around surveillance and our own self-perception, but this too seems to be merely glossed over. These could have been drawn into a tighter message through more deliberate plot construction.

Decent, but ultimately disappointing for unrealised potential.
I received an advance review copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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