Home > Book, Book Review, Reviews, Thriller > Book Review – Last Light (Last Light Series, Book 1) by Alex Scarrow

Book Review – Last Light (Last Light Series, Book 1) by Alex Scarrow

Book Description:

It begins on a very normal Monday morning. But in the space of only a few days, the world’s oil supplies have been severed and at a horrifying pace things begin to unravel everywhere. This is no natural disaster — someone is behind this.

Oil engineer Andy Sutherland is stranded in Iraq with a company of British soldiers, desperate to find a way home, trapped as the very infrastructure of daily life begins to collapse around him. Back in Britain, his wife Jenny is stuck in Manchester, fighting desperately against the rising chaos to get back to their children in London as events begin to spiral out of control — riots, raging fires, looting, rape, and murder. In the space of a week, London is transformed into an anarchic vision of hell.

Meanwhile, a mysterious man is tracking Andy’s family. He’ll silence anyone who can reveal the identities of those behind this global disaster. The people with a stranglehold on the future of civilization have flexed their muscles at other significant tipping points in history, and they are prepared to do anything to keep their secret — and their power — safe.


Last Light by Alex Scarrow had the potential to be one of the best speculative fiction novels I’ve read. It sure is one scary apocalyptic thriller (even with its faults) – seriously, it is so realistic that at one point early on when I put the book down and turned on CNN, I half expected to be greeted with a report on the harrowing events in the book (London burning! riots!)! As Alex Scarrow explains in his author’s afterword, he was inspired to write Last Light after he heard the phrase “Peak Oil” – which is the danger point at which the world pretty much runs out of oil. He wanted to show how fragile our oil-dependent society is, how quickly all veneers of civilization can descend into anarchy, how essentially helpless we have allowed ourselves to become. I mean, what would you do if there’s no power, gas, food, drinking water for the foreseeable future? There’s no need for zombies or meteors hurtling to earth to do the job – in Alex Scarrow’s Last Light, it only takes a week for the world as we know it to end completely, and that’s just from human beings turning on each other. (shiver)

To relay the disturbing events of Last Light, Mr Scarrow chose to tell the story of a civilization-in-meltdown through the eyes of the Sutherland family in Britain  – the dad (an oil engineer) stranded in no-man’s-land Iraq, the mom who has to somehow make the dangerous trek from Manchester to London, and their two kids who are home alone in lawless London.  This approach makes the events more personal, and it’s really easy to put oneself in their situation and wonder what you would do in their place.

I would have said this was the perfect thriller –  Mr Scarrow really brilliantly built up the events – really good work with generating tension and suspense. The book is really tightly written, with a fast-paced plot and characters who are easy to identify with. Additionally, the chapters are nicely short and end on cliff-hangers that keep you turning the pages to learn what happens next. Unfortunately Mr Scarrow wasn’t satisfied with a plain what-happens-when-we-run-out-of-oil plot, instead, he chose to clutter his plot with silly details like: a) a coordinated conspiracy plot by some shadowy Powers-That-Be who call themselves “The Twelve”, b) a subplot wherein a hitman is sent after a member of the Sutherland family for knowing too much, and c) a lame-ass ending that I doubt anyone was happy with.  Sigh.. these extra stuff really spoiled it for me – a pity since I really liked the premise of the book …

I’m still really interested in the sequel Afterlight  though, which is a proper post-apocalyptic book as it covers the events ten years in the future where presumably humanity has been plunged back into the dark ages. Can’t resist a post-apocalyptic yarn 😉

Last Light (Last Light Series, Book 1) by Alex Scarrow (Orion) is available on Amazon as a Paperback edition. There is no US Kindle edition, but the ebook is available at Amazon UK.

For a second opinion – here’s some reviews of Last Light by other bloggers:

  • The Guilded Earlobe – “doesn’t break too much new ground, yet it handles the tropes of the sub-genre well”
  • Reactions to Reading – “heartily recommend it to anyone who likes the idea of an intelligent romp of a thriller”
  • Petrona Book Reviews Archive – “a breathlessly exciting novel told at an incredibly fast pace.”

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