About The Last Passenger
Reporter Kate Kilroy accepts an assignment to travel on the Valkyrie, a German ship veiled in secrecy for decades after it was discovered adrift in 1939 with only one passenger aboard, a baby boy named Isaac Feldman.
Obsessed with understanding his origins, Feldman has spent a small fortune restoring the Valkyrie to try to solve the mystery. Assembling a team of experts and sparing no expense, he aims to precisely recreate the circumstances of the Valkyrie’s doomed final voyage. Little does Feldman or his team know that the ship has an agenda of its own. As the Valkyrie begins to weave its deadly web, Kate realizes that she must not only save herself, but the world as she knows it.
About the Author
International bestselling author Manel Loureiro was born in Pontevedra, Spain, and studied law at Universidade de Santiago de Compostela. After graduating, he worked in television, both on-screen (appearing on Televisión de Galicia) and behind-the-scenes as a writer. His Apocalypse Z trilogy—The Beginning of the End, Dark Days, and The Wrath of the Just—took him from the blogosphere to bestsellerdom, earning him acclaim as “the Spanish Stephen King” by La Voz de Galicia. Loureiro continues to reside in his native Pontevedra.
The Last Passenger was my December selection from the Amazon Kindle First program, and snared me with the hook of time traveling Nazi ghost cruise-ship. Such a terrific premise! And that cover art is beautiful!
Unfortunately, this read ultimately fell way short of my lofty expectations, my disappointment further compounded by a too-simplistic PR spin billing Manel Loureiro as "the Spanish Stephen King." The Last Passenger lacks the truly creepy chills and depth of character I expect from King's work, and even though there's some clear influences owed to The Shining, by book's end I can't help but think that comparing Loureiro to King is just pure laziness.
Now, I didn't completely flat-out loathe The Last Passenger (I'd rate it at about 1 and 1/2 stars, rather than zero), but my enjoyment was severely impacted by a number of problems I had with its varying levels of implausibilities and paradoxical resolutions, ranging from [SPOILER ALERT] the sudden appearance of a deceased spouse, which at times felt more like a deus ex machina than a well-constructed plot line, and the last page reveal of a ghostly impregnation, as well as the sudden toss-in of magic as the impetus for the whole travail. All of this made the book wildly uneven for me, and I have a difficult time relating to mystic resolutions or ephemeral "power of love" contrivances potent enough to slay all evil. [END SPOILER]
In addition to being uneven, it's also an overly long book. There's a graphic murder, an attempted murder, a dash of conspiracy, and, of course, the haunted cruise ship manned by a team of scientists and a wealthy magnate, who was the sole survivor found aboard the ship when it was first discovered in the late 1930s. Yet, oddly, not a lot actually happened in the course of the book's first half, and it's not really until about two-thirds of way through that things kick into high gear. But even the climax feels bloated and ponderous.
I'm also more than a bit curious as to why the ship was staffed with so many scientists. Loureiro devotes little time or attention to that nameless, faceless facet, opting to, instead, largely ignore them. One Russian scientists thunders on, albeit very briefly, about his theory on a Singularity linking hundreds of years of ships with missing crews, but it's a short-lived and unexplored concept. It's a shame that something that interesting, and seemingly vital to the book's proceedings, was given such short shrift before being glossed over entirely in favor of cheap hocus-pocus. As a group, these scientists provide little in the way of explanation, theories, or resources as to make them virtually unnecessary to the proceedings of this story.
If I ever find myself trapped in a weirdo time-shifting repeater loop aboard a cruise ship, I hope I can find better reading material because if confronted with The Last Passenger once more, I'm afraid I'd have to pass and totally upset the space-time continuum.