I think all of us felt this was not a book we would have chosen to read (it was a little grim in places!), but we all ‘enjoyed’ it. ‘The Last of Us’ is set in the Western Isles in a dystopian future where the majority of the population has been wiped out by an epidemic. Told from the point of view of Rona, aged 8, the story follows 5 children in their daily quest for survival whilst they wait for rescue. Rona tells the story in two strands – an account of the lives of the children surviving by scavenging for food in deserted houses and shops, interwoven with reflections (addressed to her mum), looking back and building a picture of the lead up to the disaster.
The different ages and characters of the children were very well brought out – some of them more likeable than others – although some felt they were more grown up than ‘real’ children. Rob Ewing uses the children’s knowledge of their parents jobs to help them in their situation – certainly Elizabeth, as the child of the local GPs, knew a lot more about medicines than an average 11 year old! Although we learnt the outcome for 3 of the children, the fate of the others was left hanging which was a little frustrating although realistically they probably didn’t survive. The book certainly didn’t deliver a cheesy ending. There were unanswered questions – was the epidemic the result of terrorist action (not all of us picked this up)? What exactly were the pills that Rona’s mum – the postwoman – delivered, one to each household?
The book lead us to consider how we would cope without electricity or water … I think the conclusion would be ‘Not very well!’