Title: The Last Days of Us
Author: Beck Nicholas
Published: December 18th 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Five teens, one derelict Kombi and an unforgettable road trip…
Six months ago, Zoey’s life went off the rails. After the tragic loss of her brother, she partied her way to oblivion, estranged her best friend, Cass, and pushed away her now ex, Finn. But when her destructive behaviour reaches dangerous heights, Zoey realises she needs to pull herself together and get her old life back, including her ex. There’s just one complication: Finn is now dating Cass.
Now, it’s the last week of summer and Zoey, Cass and Finn are setting out on the road trip of a lifetime to see their favourite musician, Gray, perform live, joined by Finn’s infuriatingly attractive bad-boy cousin Luc and his vibrant younger sister Jolie. Zoey thinks this is her chance to put things to rights and convince Finn they should get back together. But she wasn’t counting on her friends’ lingering resentment, Luc’s disarming sincerity, and Jolie’s infectious love for life to turn her plans upside down.
This emotional coming-of-age story will resonate with anyone who’s ever messed up, fallen in love, or taken off on an adventure.
Who doesn’t love a road trip themed novel? I know I have a weakness for these books, they never seem to fail to appeal my sense of adventure and escapism. The Last Days of Us, written by Australian novelist Beck Nicholas, takes the reader on an interstate jaunt with Zoey, her best friend Cass, ex Finn and Finn’s cousins. The group use the last week of summer as an excuse to take a road trip in a kombi, travelling from Adelaide to Melbourne, to see Gray, their favourite musician. The Last Days of Us is a moving coming of age story, coloured with moments of light and dark.
Zoey, the main protagonist of The Last Days of Us, lost her brother Dan over six months ago in a tragic car accident. Since the crash, life has been hard for Zoey. We learn that Zoey has engaged in a fair bit of self destructive behaviour since the loss of her brother. This carefree behaviour has directly impacted on her relationships and as a result, Zoey has lost her boyfriend Finn to her best friend Cass. In an attempt to make amends for her actions, Zoey suggests a road trip to mark the end of the summer, to see their favourite performer, Gray. The trip offers Zoey a chance to reconnect with her estranged friend and ex. As she desperately clings onto the hope of reconciliation with Finn, Zoey finds herself drawn to Luc, Finn’s mysterious cousin. With the infectious Jolie by her side, Zoey’s life begins to make a change for the better.
I saw a recent recommendation of The Last Days of Us by an author I follow closely on social media, Rachael Johns. I was pleased when a copy of The Last Days of Us came into my possession and after reading this raw coming of age novel, I am keen to explore the back catalogue of Beck Nicholas.
The Last Days of Us is a book targeted to the young adult market, with the main protagonist and her band of friends being aged in their late teens. However, I still feel this is a novel that can be appreciated by adult readers. In fact, The Last Days of Us evoked a strong sense of nostalgia for me, as it enabled me to recall the last summer of high school, as I made that difficult transition from a high school student, to a young adult. It was a tough time for me personally, as it is for our leading lady of the novel, Zoey. Although my experience at this age was nowhere near as tragic as Zoey’s, I could still find some semblance with her situation.
I appreciated Beck Nicholas’ writing style. The Last Days of Us is well written, very much targeted to the key audience of this novel and has a distinctly Australian flavour. I loved the road trip scenes very much. I lapped up the locations that are familiar to me and I thought Nicholas captured the sense of freedom a road trip ignites very well indeed.
There are some dark and tough moments in this novel that Nicholas handles with care. First there is the loss of lead character Zoey’s brother. Nicholas shows us the stages of grief through these sections of the novel and I believe she presents these in a sensitive manner. The book also explores close held secrets, fractured friendships, romance, attraction, hedonism and mental health. These relevant and contemporary issues are offset by poignant moments of self actualisation. Although it was an emotional ride with Zoey and her friends, the road travelled offered some fun times, along with the promise of a bright future ahead for the characters of The Last Days of Us.
An extra feature of The Last Days of Us that I feel must be acknowledged, as I thought it was a great touch, are the song lyrics that adorn each chapter beginning of the novel. The lyrics selected come from the performer Gray, who is Zoey’s favourite musician. Gray plays an important role in the novel, as he is the main reason why the group embark upon a road trip from state to state. This extra touch added to the musical flavour of the novel and I found myself looking forward to each new chapter, to read through these meaningful song words.
The Last Days of Us is a story of heartbreak, regret, righting past wrongs, making plans for the future and appreciating each day as a gift. This emotional coming of age young adult novel is peppered with a distinctly Australian flavour, which I loved. I enjoyed The Last Days of Us very much and I encourage all readers to add this book to your essential summer holiday reads pile!
The Last Days of Us by Beck Nicholas was published on 18th December 2017 by Harlequin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Last Days of Us, Beck Nicholas, visit here.
*I wish to thank the publisher, Harlequin Books Australia, for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.