Emma and her dog Laika have escaped the torment of reality to a house on a secluded beach in Washington state. She spends her time wandering the shore, reading books, and finding comfort in her isolation. Her only real social interaction is with an older neighbor via telescope and messages written on a whiteboard back and forth to each other. On recommendation by the older neighbor, she tries out a self-published novel and finds that she absolutely hates it. Being in a ‘sour-with-the-world’ kind of mood already, she goes maybe a little too far in her ‘honest review’ of the title, nailing it with a 1 star. This happens to be the only 1 star review for this book and almost immediately, the author contacts her directly to request she remove the review. Emma refuses, but the author persists and starts making odd suggestions of threats. At first, Emma tries not to pay too much attention, but then she notices the weird things going on at the beach house and soon, her quiet retreat turns dangerously deadly.
I’ve wanted to read more thriller/suspense novels lately and this one had some good reviews, plus it was a new release, so I gave it a shot. I have some mixed feelings about it but if we’re rating it solely on the thriller/suspense factor, then I’d have to give this one a solid 4. The action started immediately and it didn’t stop through to the very last page. I was thrilled and it was suspenseful and I was entertained. However, the things I didn’t like were pretty annoying and pulled me away from the story more than once, and also made me not take it as seriously as the author had intended.
Let’s talk about Emma first. Almost mirroring another thriller I read recently (The House at the End of the World), we have a female MC who has recently suffered a terrible tragedy and instead of healing in the real world, has chosen to run off and lock herself away in some isolated place where she toys with the idea of suicide. I don’t know if this is a common trope in thrillers coming out this year, but I’d rather we see less of the internal-suffering-destroyed-family-torment and more strong, confident, women who deal with their life instead of running away from it.
Then there’s the “bad guy” aka the serial killer author H.G. Kane. I thought about this all evening because I wasn’t sure what Taylor Adams’ actual intentions were when he designed this character but did he mean to create him to be the stereotypical neckbeard guy? Greasy, smelly, overweight, long red hair, obsessed with katanas (and Asian culture?), awkward with women, loner who was in programming, etc… because I really disliked that about him. I know that all of those descriptions were made from a third party point of view and it’s possible he was not actually like that (except for the katana thing) and that Mr. third party character wrote him up as such, but it pulled me out of the book so hard. It was extremely cringy to say the least. Honestly, even before the big reveal at the end, I really just felt sorry for him.
As for the mystery, I figured out what was going on at the beginning of the book. It wasn’t very twisty or turny, and everything was laid out pretty early on. It did take a way from the story a bit because I like to be surprised by the ending, but it was pretty interesting all the same and the story did unfold well. I think that we could have done with a fewer hints early on and added a few more distractions to the middle section and it would have worked out much better.
The ending of the book seemed to go on forever. Like, the last two hours of the story were wrapping up the ending of the ending into another ending. There was about 3 endings total. The very end was okay, but I think that it would have been more impactful if more time had been spent during the rest of the book creating more of a relationship importance between Emma and her husband. As it was, it felt sort of like a tossed in ‘happy ending’ to tie things up.
The audiobook version was good. However, its listed as a 10 hour book and if you were to listen to it at 1x speed, you would never get a sense of it being a thriller. It was super slow and drawn out for no reason. I like my thrillers to feel urgent so I listened at 1.9x speed. I know, it seems like it’s too fast, but I normally like a faster story when listening and this was the perfect speed for me to feel that urgency.
I’m not sure if I’ll read another Taylor Adams story, but this one wasn’t terrible. I found it to be a fun listen during my work day and I’m glad I picked it up.
Oh and don’t worry, Laika the dog survives the story!
Overall, I give it a 3 out of 5.
If you’d like to read more about The Last Word by Taylor Adams, check it out on Goodreads.
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3 responses to “Book Review – The Last Word”
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