The Last (Jameson) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
1. Consider the epigraph from Hans Keilson’s The Death of the Adversary. Why do you think the author chose this excerpt to open the novel?

2. Examine the structure and point of view of the novel. How would the story be different if Jon wasn’t the only narrator? Whose point of view would you want to explore? How does Jon’s occupation as a historian affect your reading of his chronicle? Do you think he’s an unreliable narrator? Why or why not?

3. On the rooftop with Jon, Dylan tells stories about L’Hotel Sixieme’s past (pp. 67–71). How does the author’s choice of setting enhance the stories?

4. Jon observes:

Everything that had happened before—our past lives—barely mattered. We lived day to day and could no longer remember all the people we hated, the things that upset us, made us angry online, Facebook statuses that made us roll our eyes, cute animal videos that made us cry, vendettas against journalists, news anchors, politicians, celebrities, relatives… all gone (p. 54).

How do you feel about Jon’s statement? Is the way he describes modern life too reductive, or is it an accurate portrait of what we value?

5. What role does technology play in the novel and in the characters’ survival?

6. How do the survivors react after discovering the girl’s body, and what do you think about their reactions? How do the stakes shift when a murder occurs at the end of the world?

7. Tomi is noticeably different from the other survivors. What pulls Jon toward her? At the same time, what about Tomi repels him? How do you feel about her?

8. The survivors share their personal histories during Jon’s investigation into the girl’s death: Adam talks about the ghost boy, and Nathan shares that his search for his stepfather led him to the hotel. Why do you think the author includes these stories?

9. Describe Jon’s first expedition outside the hotel. How do the events in the store affect him?

10. Tensions rise and blame gets lobbed around when the survivors discuss the recent election. Later, Tomi says to Jon, “The world didn’t go to shit because I voted for it. The world had long gone to shit; it took years. We all watched it happen” (p. 154). Do you think politics matter in their current situation? Whose side are you on? Discuss.

11. Discuss the group’s judgment of Nicholas van Schaik after his attempted assault on Mia (pp. 195–200). What were the arguments for and against his punishment, and do you believe the final choice fit the crime? Why or why not? Explain what you would do in this situation.

12. Early in the story, Jon tells Tania about his home life before he left for the conference. What do we learn about him? How does this revelation make you feel about Jon and about his actions so far?

13. What do Jon and Rob discover during their last trip outside? How do you feel about what they find?

14. Consider the ending. Why does the author end the novel in this way? Discuss what might happen to Jon, Tomi, and the other survivors.
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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