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Last Day

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The fates of a cast of seemingly unconnected people converge during the celebration of an ancient holiday in a thought-provoking debut that brings to mind such novels as Station Eleven and The Age of Miracles. In Domenica Ruta's profoundly original novel, the end of the world comes once a year. Every May 28, humanity gathers to anticipate the planet's demise--and to celebra The fates of a cast of seemingly unconnected people converge during the celebration of an ancient holiday in a thought-provoking debut that brings to mind such novels as Station Eleven and The Age of Miracles. In Domenica Ruta's profoundly original novel, the end of the world comes once a year. Every May 28, humanity gathers to anticipate the planet's demise--and to celebrate as if the day is truly its last. On this holiday, three intersecting sets of characters embark on a possibly last-chance quest for redemption. In Boston, bookish wunderkind Sarah is looking for love and maybe a cosmic reversal from the much older Kurt, a tattoo artist she met at last year's Last Day BBQ--but he's still trying to make amends to the family he destroyed long ago. Dysfunctional Karen keeps getting into trouble, especially when the voices she's been hearing coax her to abandon everything to search for her long-lost adoptive brother; her friend Rosette has left the Jehovah's Witnesses to follow a new pastor at the Last Kingdom on Earth, where she brings Karen on this fateful day. Meanwhile, above them all, three astronauts on the International Space Station, Bear, an American; Russian Svec; and billionaire Japanese space tourist Yui, contemplate their lives as well as their precious Earth from afar. With sparkling wit, verbal ingenuity, and wild imagination, Ruta has created an alternate world in which an ancient holiday brings into stark reflection our deepest dreams, desires, hopes, and fears. In this tour-de-force debut novel she has written a dazzling, haunting love letter to humanity and to our planet. Advance praise for Last Day "In this woven novel, we humans are love, are destruction, are wish and want. Domenica Ruta has created a portrait of humanity in a moment that is both the end and the beginning, and this novel is urgent and true and filled with such beauty."--Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty and No One Is Here Except All of Us "Domenica Ruta's empathy is broad and deep, her prose fine-grained, her humor sharp but tender. Last Day is a life-affirming antidote to these pre-apocalyptic times."--Teddy Wayne, author of Loner


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The fates of a cast of seemingly unconnected people converge during the celebration of an ancient holiday in a thought-provoking debut that brings to mind such novels as Station Eleven and The Age of Miracles. In Domenica Ruta's profoundly original novel, the end of the world comes once a year. Every May 28, humanity gathers to anticipate the planet's demise--and to celebra The fates of a cast of seemingly unconnected people converge during the celebration of an ancient holiday in a thought-provoking debut that brings to mind such novels as Station Eleven and The Age of Miracles. In Domenica Ruta's profoundly original novel, the end of the world comes once a year. Every May 28, humanity gathers to anticipate the planet's demise--and to celebrate as if the day is truly its last. On this holiday, three intersecting sets of characters embark on a possibly last-chance quest for redemption. In Boston, bookish wunderkind Sarah is looking for love and maybe a cosmic reversal from the much older Kurt, a tattoo artist she met at last year's Last Day BBQ--but he's still trying to make amends to the family he destroyed long ago. Dysfunctional Karen keeps getting into trouble, especially when the voices she's been hearing coax her to abandon everything to search for her long-lost adoptive brother; her friend Rosette has left the Jehovah's Witnesses to follow a new pastor at the Last Kingdom on Earth, where she brings Karen on this fateful day. Meanwhile, above them all, three astronauts on the International Space Station, Bear, an American; Russian Svec; and billionaire Japanese space tourist Yui, contemplate their lives as well as their precious Earth from afar. With sparkling wit, verbal ingenuity, and wild imagination, Ruta has created an alternate world in which an ancient holiday brings into stark reflection our deepest dreams, desires, hopes, and fears. In this tour-de-force debut novel she has written a dazzling, haunting love letter to humanity and to our planet. Advance praise for Last Day "In this woven novel, we humans are love, are destruction, are wish and want. Domenica Ruta has created a portrait of humanity in a moment that is both the end and the beginning, and this novel is urgent and true and filled with such beauty."--Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty and No One Is Here Except All of Us "Domenica Ruta's empathy is broad and deep, her prose fine-grained, her humor sharp but tender. Last Day is a life-affirming antidote to these pre-apocalyptic times."--Teddy Wayne, author of Loner

30 review for Last Day

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tucker

    Book:Sarah is a bookish teenager Me: I HAVE FOUND MY SOULMATE

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    How clever to have publication of this book take place on what in this dystopian world is known as "last day." May 28. So will this be the final day on earth? The world depicted here, the people, are recognizable in today's reality, except that every year there is a worldwide "celebration" anticipating the end of the world on a certain date, and butterfly-effect like, Ruta lays out the interconnectivity of us all. Absorbing and readable.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    Are you thinking…oh great, another female author another female centered end of the world? Well, don’t, this isn’t like that at all. Yes, it is a story of the last day on Earth, but it’s set in a world very much like our own with the major distinction being that Last Day is thing celebrated every May every year. It’s a day of atonement, amendments, forgiveness and so on. It’s actually fraught with meaning the way few celebratory occasions are anymore. But then again it also in a way trivializes Are you thinking…oh great, another female author another female centered end of the world? Well, don’t, this isn’t like that at all. Yes, it is a story of the last day on Earth, but it’s set in a world very much like our own with the major distinction being that Last Day is thing celebrated every May every year. It’s a day of atonement, amendments, forgiveness and so on. It’s actually fraught with meaning the way few celebratory occasions are anymore. But then again it also in a way trivializes the apocalypse, by presuming it to be a real or metaphorical possibility on such regular basis. And so this on Last Day the readers get to follow different characters through interconnected narratives as they navigate their lives. It’s a lovely story and it’s very well written, but there is a sort of dreamy quality to it that makes it something of an aloof read. The author says in her afterword the novel was written in a postpartum fugue state and that’s sort of what it reads like, not postpartum per se (I’m not sure that enters the equation), but certainly fugue like. And also, and this is despite the fact that the plots are interwoven, it sort of reads like a collection of short stories. At any rate, it engages and reads well, but it does maintain a certain emotional distance. And then it ends, like a Last Day would. If this was a bookclub read, everyone would probably discuss what they would do on their last day on Earth. That’s just a gimme. I’m not in love, but it’s a lovely book. Thanks Netgalley.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jypsy

    I loved the unique concept of Last Day when I read the synopsis. Every year in May people celebrate the end of the world or not. Imagine being happy about the apocalypse! It's odd yet fascinating. During this day, Last Day, the story follows numerous characters. Somehow, all of these characters intersect with one another in their lives. There are too many characters to keep track of here, but I think it's supposed to be that way. It's a busy day, a lot of people, noise, activity, drama, happines I loved the unique concept of Last Day when I read the synopsis. Every year in May people celebrate the end of the world or not. Imagine being happy about the apocalypse! It's odd yet fascinating. During this day, Last Day, the story follows numerous characters. Somehow, all of these characters intersect with one another in their lives. There are too many characters to keep track of here, but I think it's supposed to be that way. It's a busy day, a lot of people, noise, activity, drama, happiness, grief and on it goes. It's a blur with no single person understanding how they might have affected someone else's life. The story reads like a blur with too much happening. I liked it because it's fascinating how one person affects another, and we never know about it. Weaving all of these seemingly random strangers together is a great premise. I recommend for anyone who can read without getting overwhelmed. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amelia

    A fresh and incisive slice of our world on the edge of its inevitable end, LAST DAY is an absorptive and compelling work from a brilliant voice in American fiction.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ann (Inky)

    Congratulations! It is well into June, and it appears that we have survived another year--dodged another bullet, or, another apocalypse--as we wave goodbye to May 28th, fading in our rearview window along with the first half of 2019. Remember back in 2012, when lots of people were convinced that one day in December was the date the Mayan calendar stopped, deeming it to be the end of the world? Remember when nothing happened? Before that, it was the Y2K scare. (And those examples are only from my Congratulations! It is well into June, and it appears that we have survived another year--dodged another bullet, or, another apocalypse--as we wave goodbye to May 28th, fading in our rearview window along with the first half of 2019. Remember back in 2012, when lots of people were convinced that one day in December was the date the Mayan calendar stopped, deeming it to be the end of the world? Remember when nothing happened? Before that, it was the Y2K scare. (And those examples are only from my own lifetime--we as a species are pretty obsessed with the apocalypse). Last Day is kind of like that, except almost everyone, all around the world, really believes that the apocalypse will happen on the 28th of May. The hilarious kicker is, nobody knows which May 28th. So each year, people from nearly every niche on our planet anticipate, celebrate, or go all out bonkers for the holiday. On May 29th, humanity goes back to normal, as if nothing had happened, because, well, nothing did happen. Rinse and repeat. And repeat. And repeat... Their love for the end was everlasting [...] They went back to normal, to their normal, in which fear and righteousness attended the mundane business of living. Standing over a sink of dirty dishes, a battered mother of three could look with tenderness toward the coming end. The world Ruta has created is one exactly like ours in every way, minus one gaping hole of a difference: a cursed day at the end of the fifth month of the year known ubiquitously around the globe as Last Day. Celebrating an imaginary apocalypse while schools filled with children were bombed by dictators and pipelines leaked millions of tons of crude oil into the sea. It was so obvious it was stupid, and Sarah hated herself for being sucked into [it]. On this particular Last Day, the story bounces between several characters (a few too many of them, in my opinion), each with a unique view on how to get through the roller coaster of emotions that is Last Day. I would have liked some more diversity in the characters, but the ones Ruta did create were written well in their own voices. There’s Kurt, an alcohol-guzzling, washed up tattoo artist who can’t stop treating women badly. He has a tattoo shop called “Redemption” that shucks out free tattoos every Last Day (as long as you let the tattoo artist pick the tattoo). Then there’s Sarah Moss (who hates her name): a highly intelligent, asexual high schooler who, despite promising herself not to act out teenage cliches, does just that. Sarah used to lock herself up in her room with anxiety medication every Last Day, but Sarah vows to make this one different. Also there is Karen, a young woman already beaten down by life after spending her childhood in several foster care homes, and who has a strange habit of swallowing inedible items when she is upset, among other “quirks”(/mental illness symptoms). Karen at least has Rosette, an ex-Jehovah’s Witness who drags Karen along with her to a new “pop-up church” led by a pastor with a new perspective on Last Day. These three main characters are all looking for redemption, whatever that means to them individually. They make massive promises to themselves and they swear they will change their ways, using Last Day as their catalyst. Just like those hopefuls who make New Year's resolutions, these characters can't come to terms with the fact that May 28th, just like January 1st, is just another day on our little blue planet. Watching this, and all the world, from above are three men in the International Space Station: an American and a Russian astronaut, along with a rich Japanese tourist. Besides following these main characters, we briefly see other groups of people and other individuals leading up to May 28th. Despite their ignorance, all of Ruta's characters are connected to each other in some way. This is one of my favorite concepts in a book, but rather than being a delightful Easter egg hunt, some of the relations were muddled and hard to catch. I actually really wish we had more time with the Last Day-ers on the fringe that we only catch a tiny glimpse of--they reminded me a bit of some of the post-apocalypse groupings from Margaret Atwood’s The MaddAddam Trilogy: Oryx and Crake / The Year of the Flood / MaddAddam. You’ve got the “Doomsdayers”, naturally, who hoard and prepare for a certain type of doomsday. Not much is said about them, but I likened them to those people who dig out bomb shelters and stock it with rations, determined that the End will be met with zombies or super military AI weapons gone horribly wrong. Of course there’s the religious zealots, of every religion, each melding their own way to make it through Last Day, which they imagine as biblical--more of a gaudy, drawn out theater program than a bang or a whimper. There are those who just want to party, get high, and see Earth go out with as big of a Bang as She was made in--no tomorrow means no consequences for anyone!--and there are those who are desperately clinging to Her, praying and begging, pleading to whichever Higher Power that is listening that they aren’t ready for their beloved Earth to die. Despite what felt like a never-ending fountain of oil spills, carbon emissions, and toxic waste, the planet had yet to smolder into one big ashtray. Life marches on. It always did. It probably always would, at least in her lifetime and for many thousands of lifetimes after hers. No big deal. It was a dramatic holiday of self-inflicted upheaval drawn out into a public performance. Collective catharsis and all that. Right? Last Day is a book that is difficult to place into a genre, though it feels like literary fiction more than anything else. It’s also a book that I think going in blind is best for the reader; the less you know, the better. However, I think a lot of readers will pick this up thinking it is a plot-driven dystopian fiction, as I thought before I dove in. It’s a study of many characters, all over the world, and their unique perspectives and experiences before and during Last Day. I wanted to give this book a three-star rating, but I decided that it deserved the fourth star after I realized how much the story impacted me emotionally. The ending played over in my head for days, and it's taken me over a month to write this review. The signs were everywhere. [...] There were too many people in the world, and not enough resources to sustain them, not even enough names to go around. [...] How many movies were exactly like other movies? How many times could people tell the same story? The world was running out of ideas. If there was any death knell for humanity, it was not peak oil or global warming or beehive collapse but the superfluity of Sarahs. Many thanks to my new friend Lenoire for talking about this unique book with me! It really helped me process the book’s message(s) and meaning as a whole, as well as look at the characters from someone else’s perspective in addition to my own. And thank you so much to Spiegel & Grau and to Goodreads giveaways! I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. __________________________________________ Initial thoughts: I am so glad that I was able to take a short break from this & then come back & devour it. This one requires a lot of patience but the reward is heartbreaking-ly & terribly good.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    This is my second book in the last two days that had a blurb comparing it to “Station Eleven”. Blurb writers have no shame and neither book measured up to “Station Eleven” (and I didn’t agree that that book lived up to its hype). According to this book, the last day of life on Earth has been prophesied to occur on May 28th of an unspecified year. Various annual last day rituals have developed in different countries. Some people party, some apologize for past failings, some make new hookups. And This is my second book in the last two days that had a blurb comparing it to “Station Eleven”. Blurb writers have no shame and neither book measured up to “Station Eleven” (and I didn’t agree that that book lived up to its hype). According to this book, the last day of life on Earth has been prophesied to occur on May 28th of an unspecified year. Various annual last day rituals have developed in different countries. Some people party, some apologize for past failings, some make new hookups. And then the world doesn’t come to an end and everything goes back to normal until next year. The book consists of vignettes and biographical sketches about way too many characters. Some of these characters converge but most do not, and towards the end of book it felt like a flood of new characters suddenly appeared. I wasn’t really engaged by any of the characters, or this book. However, I did like the eloquent last chapter. 2.5 stars rounded up to 3 because of the ending. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Debi Hawkes

    The premise; an annual celebration, around the world of the impending apocalypse was intriguing. The various forms the celebrations take are shared through several main and secondary characters whose storylines occasionally remotely intertwine, was quite fascinating. The author is quite gifted, able to succinctly convey so many themes, and carry so many storylines. My only issue with the book is the multiple characters and storylines, my head felt over full remembering who was who, how they connec The premise; an annual celebration, around the world of the impending apocalypse was intriguing. The various forms the celebrations take are shared through several main and secondary characters whose storylines occasionally remotely intertwine, was quite fascinating. The author is quite gifted, able to succinctly convey so many themes, and carry so many storylines. My only issue with the book is the multiple characters and storylines, my head felt over full remembering who was who, how they connected, etc. But this is a nice issue to have, had to think way beyond the last page! I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jonah ❤️LIBROCUBICULARIST❤️

    DNF @ 25% - Could not connect with the characters and the story is a bit of a drag by that point...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    (I received a free copy from Random House) So I didn't love this one. It's about a fictional holiday called "Last Day," where every year humans celebrate what might be their last day on Earth (May 28th was once predicted to be the end of the world). Each year, though, the sun still rises and life carries on. But will it this year? We follow Sarah, a young girl fixated on a much older tattoo artist; Karen, a troubled woman who begins to hear voices; and Bear, an astronaut on the International Spac (I received a free copy from Random House) So I didn't love this one. It's about a fictional holiday called "Last Day," where every year humans celebrate what might be their last day on Earth (May 28th was once predicted to be the end of the world). Each year, though, the sun still rises and life carries on. But will it this year? We follow Sarah, a young girl fixated on a much older tattoo artist; Karen, a troubled woman who begins to hear voices; and Bear, an astronaut on the International Space Station. What I liked: I *did* stay up too late reading this, which is always a good quality in a book. I was really into Sarah's narrative in the first half, especially because of Ruta's solid characterization. Also loved the imagination behind the origin of Last Day and the almost anthropological reports about how it's celebrated across the world. What I didn't like: The three main narratives never came together, and didn't seem to enhance each other. They also weren't balanced for me, meaning I kept racing through certain characters' sections to get back to the more interesting story. It felt emotionally distanced, too, and nobody was very likable (not a deal breaker for me though). The ending also really didn't work for me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. It’s a decent book. Nothing like Station Eleven though. The theme and content are slightly different so I’m not sure comparing the two is a great idea. Additionally I didn’t connect to many of the characters. I liked Karen. I think less characters to follow would have been better. However it’s a decent book so if you like this sort of book give it a shot!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Judi

    I received this ARC for free and this review is my unbiased opinion. If I had a 50-page rule this would be a DNF review. Somewhere between page 50 and 100, I started to get interested in the characters and became curious as to how the book would end. Would this be a "Last Day" like all of the rest where people celebrated (?) what ultimately wasn't the last day on Earth? Or, would it be The "Last Day"? I'm not sure what happened but I lost interest again but since I had invested so much into the b I received this ARC for free and this review is my unbiased opinion. If I had a 50-page rule this would be a DNF review. Somewhere between page 50 and 100, I started to get interested in the characters and became curious as to how the book would end. Would this be a "Last Day" like all of the rest where people celebrated (?) what ultimately wasn't the last day on Earth? Or, would it be The "Last Day"? I'm not sure what happened but I lost interest again but since I had invested so much into the book already I slogged through to the end. This is not "my" genre. I didn't find a character I could connect with or root for and many of the topics addressed in the text are none I've come close to experiencing. Ruta didn't provide a pathway for me to engage and so I was left on the outside of all plots. I was intrigued by how she subtlely connected each of the major storylines. All in all, I found the writing to be inconsistent - some lines and the occasional paragraph were so literary I had hope for the rest of the book. But then there was writing that fell terribly short of that standard. There's hope for a better book; Ruta has demonstrated she can write well and, hopefully, her next work of fiction will be better polished.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    2.5 stars rounded up to 3. I was drawn in by the premise (I love a good old apocalypse) and especially by the comparison to Station Eleven. While I did enjoy the prose, I never felt a connection to any of the characters, so most of the story felt like it was dragging on while I was just trying to find out what happened next. I didn't really care what happened to any of these people. Station Eleven this is not -- the comparison stops at the apocalyptic theme. That said, since I only finish about 2.5 stars rounded up to 3. I was drawn in by the premise (I love a good old apocalypse) and especially by the comparison to Station Eleven. While I did enjoy the prose, I never felt a connection to any of the characters, so most of the story felt like it was dragging on while I was just trying to find out what happened next. I didn't really care what happened to any of these people. Station Eleven this is not -- the comparison stops at the apocalyptic theme. That said, since I only finish about 10% of the books I start, I enjoyed reading this one enough to keep going until the end.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    On the night of May 27-May 28 on an alternate earth, people around the world celebrate Last Night. The holiday has ancient roots. On this night, people try to make amends to people they’ve wrong; make sacrifices; or just light bonfires, drink, and have a good time. Domenica Ruta’s Last Day jumps from character to character on one Last Night in an unknown year. All of the characters are isolated from their friends and families for a variety of reasons. All are seeking something—a sense of connect On the night of May 27-May 28 on an alternate earth, people around the world celebrate Last Night. The holiday has ancient roots. On this night, people try to make amends to people they’ve wrong; make sacrifices; or just light bonfires, drink, and have a good time. Domenica Ruta’s Last Day jumps from character to character on one Last Night in an unknown year. All of the characters are isolated from their friends and families for a variety of reasons. All are seeking something—a sense of connection, most of all—and all of them struggle to relate to the people around them. In addition to all this is the lingering question: what if this Last Night is the Last Night? Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Last Day by Domenica Ruta describes how different people "celebrate" the Last Day, a yearly holiday in anticipating of the end of the world. Focusing on several characters, including a team on an international space station, a tattoo artist, a teen girl, Ruta depicts existential dread in various forms and flavors. I really liked the different characters, and the ending definitely stuck with me. It's very bleak and dark with unlikable characters, which worked for me in this book (though I don't a Last Day by Domenica Ruta describes how different people "celebrate" the Last Day, a yearly holiday in anticipating of the end of the world. Focusing on several characters, including a team on an international space station, a tattoo artist, a teen girl, Ruta depicts existential dread in various forms and flavors. I really liked the different characters, and the ending definitely stuck with me. It's very bleak and dark with unlikable characters, which worked for me in this book (though I don't always enjoy it in other contexts). Unlike other reviewers, I somehow missed the comparison to Station Eleven, which is probably for the best. Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robin Robertson

    Every May 28, people around the world celebrate Last Day. Each culture, in their own ways and rituals, gather to spend the day as their last. In this story we meet several characters interwoven throughout the book. Three astronauts on the International Space Station, a tattoo artist, and a Jehovah Witness woman, are just a few people we meet celebrating this ancient holiday. I love books(and movies) exploring the end of earth. This book is a good addition to the genre. I liked the writing, the c Every May 28, people around the world celebrate Last Day. Each culture, in their own ways and rituals, gather to spend the day as their last. In this story we meet several characters interwoven throughout the book. Three astronauts on the International Space Station, a tattoo artist, and a Jehovah Witness woman, are just a few people we meet celebrating this ancient holiday. I love books(and movies) exploring the end of earth. This book is a good addition to the genre. I liked the writing, the characters were interesting, and the ending, well..... Great move to publish on May 28. Thank you NetGalley. #Last Day #NetGalley #RandomHouse

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ian Mond

    My review of this novel is published in the July 2019 issue of Locus.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lenoire

    Once a year on May 28, all of humanity gather to celebrate the day of the planet's demise. People party and act as it is the last day they are alive. Sarah is a bookish wunderkind who is looking for love. She felt that she has always been asexual but, she finds herself attracted to an older man, Kurt. Sarah and Kurt met last year during her parents' Last Day BBQ. Kurt is a tattoo artist who is trying to make amends to a family he destroyed years ago. Karen consistently gets in trouble. She was ab Once a year on May 28, all of humanity gather to celebrate the day of the planet's demise. People party and act as it is the last day they are alive. Sarah is a bookish wunderkind who is looking for love. She felt that she has always been asexual but, she finds herself attracted to an older man, Kurt. Sarah and Kurt met last year during her parents' Last Day BBQ. Kurt is a tattoo artist who is trying to make amends to a family he destroyed years ago. Karen consistently gets in trouble. She was abused at a young age and suffers from an eating disorder. After getting into trouble again, she decides to abandon her current life and search for her long lost adoptive brother. Her friend, Rosette left the Jehovah's Witness and follows a new pastor who has different opinions about the Last Day. Rosette tries to help Karen as she believes it will her atone for her past sins. When Karen calls Rosette for help, she takes Karen to the church in hopes that it will help her. Three astronauts on the International Space Station are witnessing the Last Day spectacle in Space. Bear, an American astronaut along with Russian astronaut, Svec, and a Japanese space tourist, Yui contemplate their lives during the Last Day festivities. Together they band together and share stories of their native customs for the Last Day. At first, I thought this was going to be an interesting read. Then, I was quite confused by some of the behaviors of the characters especially when they tried changing their behaviors. After I read more about each character I understood their motives. The book depicts how one person's actions have an effect on other people lives. I found that to be an interesting concept that something trivial to you can mean the world to someone else. Overall, the book was thought-provoking but, I am not sure if it was my cup of tea.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shoshana Goldberg

    3.5 stars rounded down to 3, since the ending was so upsetting I had nightmares. Last Day tells the story of multiple characters, connected by varying degrees of separation, as they celebrate the international holiday "Last Day,' which is an annual celebration of the anticipated end of the world. These characters range the gamut from an asexual adolescent on a journey of self-discovery, to a special needs woman trying to track down her family, to a tattoo artist attempting to make amends, to ast 3.5 stars rounded down to 3, since the ending was so upsetting I had nightmares. Last Day tells the story of multiple characters, connected by varying degrees of separation, as they celebrate the international holiday "Last Day,' which is an annual celebration of the anticipated end of the world. These characters range the gamut from an asexual adolescent on a journey of self-discovery, to a special needs woman trying to track down her family, to a tattoo artist attempting to make amends, to astronauts on board the ISS, and many others. In addition, inter-spliced between the chapters are short vignettes describing the history of the Last Day holiday, and the various ways that different countries and cultures observe and celebrate. As a side note, these vignettes were honestly some of my favorite parts of the book, and were some of the most creative and expansive bits of world building, in a book that aimed to increasingly 'build a world' as it went along. There is part of me that wishes there could be a graphic novella accompaniment that goes into further details of the history and present day Last Day celebrations--I would buy it in a heartbeat. As for the book itself. There is a lot of good here. The initial central characters are well formed and distinct in their voices, though at times there was a bit too much of growing mystery about their pasts which was never explained. The Last Day vignettes, as I mentioned above, were fantastic. I admire the ambition of this book, and think it's a new take on the apocalyptic fiction genre--though I would NEVER make a comparison to Station Eleven. This is squarely in the apocalyptic/actual apocalypse space, not in the post-apocalyptic/ 'we can learn about life by seeing how people deal with encountered death and tragedy' But as the book went on, it got a bit too big for its constraints. More and more characters and settings were added, particularly in the last few pages, to little benefit, and at the expense of spending one last moment with our main characters. The ways that all the characters connected became increasingly more tenuous and forced, sometimes to the point of improbability. The ending, as I noted above, was truly disturbing and upsetting, though I guess that's not really a negative--it's just a thing to be aware of. Of all the post-apocalyptic books I've read, this one is the most bleak--not only in the end of the world, but in its belief in the ability of characters to ever change and grow. Ultimately, while I think this book was very well-written and will appeal to a lot of people, I'm not sure I can say I enjoyed it. Thank you to Net Galley and Random House for the free ARC, in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Leighellen

    This is a really interesting and unique novel. A part of me wants to mull it over for a week or two before writing my review, but I decided to write while it's all still fresh in my head and I'm a little unsteady about the whole thing. The concept pulled me in - all across earth, people from around the world are celebrating a holiday called Last Day. It was predicted long ago that the world would end on a certain day, so every year on the day before it is supposed to happen, people gather in pre This is a really interesting and unique novel. A part of me wants to mull it over for a week or two before writing my review, but I decided to write while it's all still fresh in my head and I'm a little unsteady about the whole thing. The concept pulled me in - all across earth, people from around the world are celebrating a holiday called Last Day. It was predicted long ago that the world would end on a certain day, so every year on the day before it is supposed to happen, people gather in preparation. Every culture honors it a little differently. Some people go around asking for forgiveness or redemption. Some people burn items of importance. Some towns host parades. This isn't a linear story or a traditional novel with a protagonist and a problem to solve. This book has MANY stories and follows several main characters. It reads more like multiple short stories, with all stories focussing on the theme of how they each chose to honor Last Day. It can be tough in the beginning since each character is so vastly different - from a middle aged astronaut at a space station to a teenage girl at home with her family and everything in between - and you wonder how it all comes together. I ended up making a chart to keep track of who was who. This helped me as the novel progressed and bounced around from each location. What works with this format is the authors ability to look at traditions and superstitions. By swapping viewpoints throughout the novel, the author is able to cast a bigger picture of how Last Day works and allow us to get a feel for overall society's mindset at this time and space. What results is deep dive into each characters while still getting a birds eye view of the entire world. It reminded me somewhat of There There but with less emotional attachment to the characters. In this book, however, the individual character maps don't ever cross each other. They aren't meant to come together but rather form your perception of Last Day and make you think - what would YOU do? I loved the historical markers throughout the novel where the author explained how certain traditions came about throughout time or how some were changed and why. It allowed the author to make us think about several social issues, religion, and culture without it becoming a book focussed on those issues. The exploration of all these things rises organically out of the characters living their lives, and is never preachy or judgemental. It does make you ponder why we do what we do culturally - how did Santa come about from baby Jesus? what does a bunny and painted eggs have to do with Easter? This book is unsettling, but I think it is supposed to be. Not all of the characters are likable and neither are their Last Day choices - but I think that's the point. Some people seek redemption in the end while others want one last hoorah. I thought the ending was unique and unexpected yet fitting. It would make for a great book club read as I'm sure plenty of people will hate it!! But that brings about great discussion. I had to reread the last chapters twice to make sure I got it all. My brain is still grinding away trying to process it. Thank you to Net Galley and Random House Publishing for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review. #LastDay #NetGalley #randomhousepublishing

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I thought I knew what to expect when I began reading this book but it was a little different than what I had originally anticipated. Because of that reason I waited to write my review; I wasn't sure of how I felt about it. Still aren't. I read through it in two nights alternating between liking some characters and not liking them. At times it was difficult to connect with them, to understand or emphasize with them while other times, it was hard not to feel what they were experiencing. This novel i I thought I knew what to expect when I began reading this book but it was a little different than what I had originally anticipated. Because of that reason I waited to write my review; I wasn't sure of how I felt about it. Still aren't. I read through it in two nights alternating between liking some characters and not liking them. At times it was difficult to connect with them, to understand or emphasize with them while other times, it was hard not to feel what they were experiencing. This novel is not split into chapters, there is nothing to alert the reader when the author transitions to another character. This can be frustrating as several times I did not realize that we had switched to someone else's story. From the description, I originally thought the characters were all physically together in one location. A "Love Boat/Fantasy Island" kind of thing. A diverse group of people who happened to all book the same trip with some overlapping stories. There is some overlapping, at times, you may recognize a name or place but you won't necessarily be hit over the head with it. In fact, as an example, one person mentioned quite often in a character's life story appears only near the end of the book. I don't know exactly how diverse this group of main characters really are but the impression I had was of few if any POC. I may be wrong, if so I apologize, but I can only recall descriptions of pale skin, blonde ringlets, etc. There are POC, in Karen's story, her friend Rosette is Azoaron and some people in the church are Haitian, etc. But the main people we follow, I think, are mostly white. It may have added to the experience to see in a main story how a POC treated the holiday, how a Native American treated the holiday and so on. The story I found myself most drawn to took place in the space station. Sure, Bear was interesting but his fellow astronauts were fascinating. This group of characters were consistently the most interesting and compelling. I can't complain about how the ending was abrupt as I think that was realistic to the scenario presented. I do have a small complaint with suddenly having many new characters/stories thrown in in the end. Who are they? Why didn't we get to meet them before? It isn't as bad as when that happens in a mystery and the new character/murderer is introduced in the last chapter - now that is a problem! All in all, I think there is an audience for this book. Dystopian novels seem very popular these days. I have read quite a few but I don't think I would put this in that genre. Perhaps Dystopian -adjacent, I don't know if it already has a specific genre. I don't want to say more, no spoilers here. This was a first of its kind for me, not sure if I would read this type of book again as I am a person who worries about everything and it might freak me out too much.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mercedes

    **2.5 Stars** This is now the second book I've read that has been compared to 'Station Eleven', and it's the second book I've read that is NOTHING LIKE 'STATION ELEVEN'. I really wish publishers would STOP comparing their mediocre dystopian-esq novels to the beautiful story that is 'Station Eleven'. It just pisses readers off and sets them up for disappointment. Also, this story is NOT dystopian. At all. Anyway... I'll start this review by telling readers what they REALLY want to know while readi **2.5 Stars** This is now the second book I've read that has been compared to 'Station Eleven', and it's the second book I've read that is NOTHING LIKE 'STATION ELEVEN'. I really wish publishers would STOP comparing their mediocre dystopian-esq novels to the beautiful story that is 'Station Eleven'. It just pisses readers off and sets them up for disappointment. Also, this story is NOT dystopian. At all. Anyway... I'll start this review by telling readers what they REALLY want to know while reading this book. Yes...the world comes to an end at the end. No, I will not go into how or when, or anything explaining it, but that's all I really wanted to know while reading this. In fact, it's the main reason I KEPT reading it. To see if and how the world would end (it's actually kind of terrifying in how absolute it is). None of the characters drew me in. I didn't care for any of them...Karen's a broken, crazy woman who is incredibly depressing to read about. Sarah (with an 'H'!) is a sixteen year old girl trying WAAAAAY too hard to be what she perceives as deep and mature, but comes off as bratty and selfish. And Kurt is a creepy guy in his 40's preying upon the aforementioned sixteen year old girl (it's really skeevy and gross). The three astronauts, Bear, Svec and Yui were my favorite to read about. Well, Bear and Svec. Yui is kind of...weird. I really liked having the perspective of three people so completely removed from Earth itself. As for the writing? Well....this is a little harder for me to review. Much of it is written very well, but in many places (especially the ending), it comes off as trying to hard to be flowery and poetic. I don't know...I know how I want to describe it in my head, but I can't really explain it. Some sections are written in a way where you have to go back and re-read them to really understand what's happening. Nothing is really CLEAR, and that frustrates me. There's a lot of pointless descriptions and side-stories sprinkled throughout that have no meaning to the overall story. Like the dolphins at the end, or the kid with the rabbits, or Mary's psycho sister, Sarah. So many characters are thrown at you (especially near the end) that they mean nothing because you can't keep them all straight. Overall, I don't know that I would recommend this to anyone I know. I CERTAINLY wouldn't recommend it to fans of 'Station Eleven', because they'll be in for a major disappointment. It's by no means a terrible book, but it's definitely a slow, slow burn, with a mild payout in the end. *** I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***

  23. 5 out of 5

    Madam

    In an alternate but identical universe, May 27 is Last Day, celebrated around the world as the final day of humanity’s existence … every year. The origins of this annual worldwide holiday are buried in myth, but no one really believes the world will end on any particular May 28. After all, there are mattress sales, beer-soaked festivals, and free tattoos dispensed at a Boston shop. This particular May 27 starts at the International Space Station, where two astronauts — one Russian, the other Ame In an alternate but identical universe, May 27 is Last Day, celebrated around the world as the final day of humanity’s existence … every year. The origins of this annual worldwide holiday are buried in myth, but no one really believes the world will end on any particular May 28. After all, there are mattress sales, beer-soaked festivals, and free tattoos dispensed at a Boston shop. This particular May 27 starts at the International Space Station, where two astronauts — one Russian, the other American — and a Japanese space tourist complete experiments, communicate with their respective mission controls, and cope with their profound individual dissatisfactions. The only happy traveler is Yui, the Japanese space tourist, whose primary occupation is his own contentment. Bear and Svec, the American and Russian astronauts, are preoccupied with their orbital duties, as well as family issues on Earth, the lovely blue orb always visible from the ISS portholes. Back on the blue orb, Kathy is overcome by her many psychological issues, including the inability to control her actions, overeating, and consuming inedible objects. Abandoned early in life by her mother, she’s obsessed with finding her half-brother, Dennis, with whom she feels an unshakable bond, and her only friend, Rosie, a Filipino immigrant who introduces her to a splinter congregation of disillusioned Jehovah’s Witnesses. Kathy anchors herself to Rosie, never sensing that the older woman is far from a safe harbor. Meanwhile, Sarah, the beloved but benignly neglected high school daughter of two college professors, stews in ennui as she struggles to make a memorable human connection on this particular Last Day. Long after a few moments of flirting at a faculty picnic, she tracks down the ex-boyfriend of one of her parents’ colleagues, convinced they can create a more authentic world … even if she’s not sure what that means. And as the frantic but common activities of another May 27 wind down, something off-key creeps in, hinting that, just like morning fog on a Massachusetts beach, something hidden has emerged in the last hours of this Last Day. It stretches its fingerlike tendrils as far away from Planet Earth as possible, to a cabin on the International Space Station, in the early hours of May 28, bringing with it what no one ever expected.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shari

    3.5 stars rounding up to 4. To begin, the whole Station Eleven comparison/blurb should be removed. It sets expectations that this book sadly for me, did not reach. I LOVE dystopian fiction. I read nearly every mainstream dystopian novel that gets published. To me, dystopia it is more about the survivors, finding a way of coming together and moving forward after a devastation, and striking a new balance. This book was not that. This book takes place on an annual holiday sometime in the alternate/n 3.5 stars rounding up to 4. To begin, the whole Station Eleven comparison/blurb should be removed. It sets expectations that this book sadly for me, did not reach. I LOVE dystopian fiction. I read nearly every mainstream dystopian novel that gets published. To me, dystopia it is more about the survivors, finding a way of coming together and moving forward after a devastation, and striking a new balance. This book was not that. This book takes place on an annual holiday sometime in the alternate/near future called "Last Day". It's about celebrating the end of the world, but then the world is somewhat reborn the next day and life goes on. It brings together three separate character stories and attempts to weave them together, albeit loosely and not until the final 20% or so of the novel (and then still pretty loosely). It did keep me reading, except for some of the lengthier narratives when Karen was doing a retelling of a Last Day story to some children in an apartment. I found myself skimming towards the end of that ramble. The characters of both Sarah and Karen were unlikeable to me. Karen had some tragic but humorous moments, Sarah was basically just a bitter teen misanthrope. I did like Svec and Bear (astronauts) though. Towards the end there are all kinds of new people being introduced and tossed after several lengthy paragraphs, I found myself wanting to skim. I don't want to say any more because of spoilers, but if you're really into dystopian fiction, you might give it a read, but it was not my favorite in a well-loved category.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kara Titus

    I came across this book in my library and recognized the author from the first book she wrote that I truly related to, coming from an alcoholic mother myself and a troubled childhood with a passion for writing, so I figured I would try out her fiction debut. I was not disappointed. Due to my OCD, I am always checking what page I am on while reading, focusing on making my daily 100 pages, but I did not even look up once while reading this story. It had me hooked from the very beginning. I recogni I came across this book in my library and recognized the author from the first book she wrote that I truly related to, coming from an alcoholic mother myself and a troubled childhood with a passion for writing, so I figured I would try out her fiction debut. I was not disappointed. Due to my OCD, I am always checking what page I am on while reading, focusing on making my daily 100 pages, but I did not even look up once while reading this story. It had me hooked from the very beginning. I recognize how difficult it is to write a semi-short novel involving so many different characters and their arcs, but Ruta nailed it and left nothing hanging when it came to the end. I would have perhaps enjoyed seeing each of their fates end up entagled a bit more, but for what it was, she wrapped up each character's short plot. It was very inspirational to read a story about how people have created a "party" every year depicting the "end of the world" and never expecting it to actually happen. The many different things that one can lead a human in response to thinking it is their last day on earth are mentioned in this book - so many different possibilities of what one would do are illustrated here. I loved the creativity of her characters, especially Karen, who had a bad impulse of eating objects that were not edible. I would read this book again just to dissect it completely and learn more about human nature through the eyes of Ruta, as I think she has much to offer us in the literary world and has only opened up a tiny bit of the potential she has in writing wonderful fiction.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jmm

    I find Ruta is a genius of sentence construction, and of world construction. Her imagination somehow has room for all of these characters, and for this slightly alternate universe. I found hers to be honest and realistic even when, for this one day every year, nothing feels really real. I love when a book alternates between characters (or in this case, sets of characters) and I can be completely pulled in to whatever one I'm reading at the moment. Such was the case with Last Day. While I didn't I find Ruta is a genius of sentence construction, and of world construction. Her imagination somehow has room for all of these characters, and for this slightly alternate universe. I found hers to be honest and realistic even when, for this one day every year, nothing feels really real. I love when a book alternates between characters (or in this case, sets of characters) and I can be completely pulled in to whatever one I'm reading at the moment. Such was the case with Last Day. While I didn't always like each character, and often wished they'd made different choices, I was so invested in them that I was willing to follow them anywhere. The author has an uncanny ability to shift her tone in each section, seamlessly weaving together narratives about multiple characters and signaling those shifts through her language use. I found this made the book so accessible to me--even when some of it takes place in space (a detail I'll admit I had assumed I wouldn't like. In the end, I loved it.) And so when I came to the end, I had to ask myself why I kept reading it--because the end is revealed in the title, so something had to keep me reading. Of course it's Ruta's sentences, her language, and the characters she brings to life. I didn't find it hard to keep track of the large cast, in fact I loved it, and cherished those easter eggs Ruta left along the way tying them to one another. This author has given us the gift of revealing our own humanity in a book I'm eager to reread.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Scanzillo

    Described as an apocalyptic tale and compared to Station 11, Heartbreaker, and other novels I loved, I was sure Last Day by Domenica Ruta was right up my alley and was thrilled to receive an ARC from NetGalley and Random House in exchange for an honest review. Ruta’s novel follows the stories of a host of characters throughout the Last Day holiday as all converge on one increasingly ominous-seeming event. I don’t think the comparison to Station 11 is accurate, as this isn’t a post-apocalyptic or Described as an apocalyptic tale and compared to Station 11, Heartbreaker, and other novels I loved, I was sure Last Day by Domenica Ruta was right up my alley and was thrilled to receive an ARC from NetGalley and Random House in exchange for an honest review. Ruta’s novel follows the stories of a host of characters throughout the Last Day holiday as all converge on one increasingly ominous-seeming event. I don’t think the comparison to Station 11 is accurate, as this isn’t a post-apocalyptic or dystopian novel, but it is an interesting and unique concept all its own. Unfortunately I had a lot of trouble connecting with many of the characters; I found myself most interested in Karen’s story, and least interested in Sarah and Kurt’s (I also thought the author got the characterization of tattooers/tattoo shops/tattooing way wrong which took me out of that story line completely). Karen however was one of the most unique characters I’ve encountered in a long time and my heart ached for her. I wasn’t particularly interested in Bear, however his cosmonaut counterpart, Svec, was the most endearing character in the novel and by the end I found myself feeling the most compassion and interest for the storyline on the ISS. The book had a bit too much going on for being under 300 pages; I think the goal was to invoke the increasing chaos of Last Day but instead it just lost my interest repeatedly. Overall, a great concept, but I don’t know if the impact was really there in the end.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    The novel Last Day takes place in current times, however, in this story each year on May 28th people worldwide celebrate the holiday, Last Day, an anticipation of the planet’s demise. The details of celebration differ depending on what country and/or city you live in, but the purpose is the same: If today is the last day on Earth, what would you/should you do with that time? The plot follows three subtly interconnected sets of characters as they set about this task. I love the juxtaposition of c The novel Last Day takes place in current times, however, in this story each year on May 28th people worldwide celebrate the holiday, Last Day, an anticipation of the planet’s demise. The details of celebration differ depending on what country and/or city you live in, but the purpose is the same: If today is the last day on Earth, what would you/should you do with that time? The plot follows three subtly interconnected sets of characters as they set about this task. I love the juxtaposition of characters who are desperately searching for meaning and characters who can barely be bothered. Each seems an appropriate approach to the end of the world – to scramble or to continue on. It’s arguably coming either way. How would an annual reminder of its possibility change the way we make decisions? Would it at all? I’ve (clearly) gone back and forth since reading the book, which is fun in a frustrating way. I also really enjoyed the history and fable the author weaved into the narrative including the genesis of the holiday during Babylonian times, how various religions absorbed the holiday into their doctrines, and the regional differences in celebration. It felt very real and added another layer of thought provocation.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    "Last Day", set perhaps in the present or near future, centers around Bear, Svec and Yui, three astronauts aboard an international space station; along with a number of individuals on earth, among them, Kurt, Karen and Sarah. Everyone is interconnected in some way, and also connected in that it is the annual "Last Day" holiday, when tradition dictates that the world might end that night. I found myself engaged deeply in the story and driven by the narrative if not the characters, who were not all "Last Day", set perhaps in the present or near future, centers around Bear, Svec and Yui, three astronauts aboard an international space station; along with a number of individuals on earth, among them, Kurt, Karen and Sarah. Everyone is interconnected in some way, and also connected in that it is the annual "Last Day" holiday, when tradition dictates that the world might end that night. I found myself engaged deeply in the story and driven by the narrative if not the characters, who were not all that likable but very human. I wanted very much to follow along and find out where the author was going with this. In the end I am still wondering, and will be thinking about this for a while. Was this a story of the meaning of life or the idea of a life worth meaning? Not sure, but the fact that my attention was captured and my thoughts still questioning, are hallmarks of a good piece of writing. I have not read any other reviews and wonder if my four stars are high, but give them gladly. Thank you Goodreads for the free ARC of this novel.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tess

    LAST DAY (out now) was up and down for me — some huge high points, and some low points too. A high concept centers around a few main characters, slightly related, all celebrating a fictional holiday called Last Day. Every May 28th, most of the world honors the inevitable end of the world with apologies, surprise tattoos, cook-outs, and much more. What the characters don’t know, however, is that the actual end of the world may be not that far away. Such a great idea for a novel, and while this boo LAST DAY (out now) was up and down for me — some huge high points, and some low points too. A high concept centers around a few main characters, slightly related, all celebrating a fictional holiday called Last Day. Every May 28th, most of the world honors the inevitable end of the world with apologies, surprise tattoos, cook-outs, and much more. What the characters don’t know, however, is that the actual end of the world may be not that far away. Such a great idea for a novel, and while this book wasn’t as good as some other recent apocalypse novels, I enjoyed Ruta’s execution and prose. My complaint is that there were a lot of characters and it was often hard to understand what was happening. There were two characters, Sarah and Kurt, that I liked the most and almost wished the book was only about them!

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