Last One to Die

Delacorte. Mar. 2024. 288p. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780593705544.
Gr 6-9–Farm girl Niamh, 16, leaves her rural Irish hometown for a six-week drama program at a university in London. Her big city dreams are dashed almost immediately by a rash of violent incidents. Girls who look eerily similar to her are being attacked and murdered. Not yet willing to return to her bland life, Niamh tries to ignore the dangers that plague her and pushes on with her lectures and work placement in the drama program, where she struggles to make friends. Eventually she hits it off with the university librarian’s daughter, the kooky head tour guide at the museum where she is assigned to work, and a hot coworker. As more violence surrounds her, she can no longer deny that there is a strange connection among her, these attacks, and the museum. The pacing and plot are clunky and disjointed in an effort to keep readers on edge. But scenes often cut away in the middle of the action and jump to a new scene or new day, leaving the previous scene barely discussed, let alone resolved. Characters are shallow and lack background as well as development. Niamh’s internal woes sometimes drag down the thriller aspect. Supernatural components are alluded to but not strongly enough. When they do show up in the late in the story, it’s jarring. That aside, preteen and younger teens will devour this novel; more mature readers will want something meatier and complex.
VERDICT Purchase for upper middle school libraries that need to boost their suspense/thriller shelves; skip for high school.

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