On an otherwise typical morning, the President of the United States appears on national television and tells the world there is a meteor on a collision course with the Earth. At the end of the broadcast, the President commits suicide. Soon after, the world plummets into chaos and madness. Countries unleash their nuclear arsenals, governments collapse, and civil order goes out the window. This happens only in the first hour of the last eighteen left before the Earth is to be devastated. This is the set up for what follows in Bryan Smith’s “Last Day.”
If you’ve read other Bryan Smith novels, you should know what to expect from the extreme horror novelist, and unfortunately, this is the novel’s central issue. Following a small sample size of otherwise ordinary people thrust into enduring the breakdown of society, the central plot revolves around three different groups: the typical nuclear family hiding an extraordinarily dark and horrifying secret, a young couple dissatisfied with their relationship, and a young working professional stuck on a bridge on his way to work.
We follow each group of characters through the novel and in typical Bryan Smith manner, they must confront antagonists who are deplorable, deranged, and depraved. With the end of the world upon them, free of consequences and a police force to stop them, these psychos will go on an all-out campaign of murder, rape, and destruction. No one is safe. Nothing is off the table.
Unfortunately, as mentioned before, this is where the problem lays. If you’ve read Bryan Smith novels before, you’ll notice a lot of the same ticks. A beautiful, psychotic woman. A generally well-to-do young man becomes submissive to the previously mentioned beautiful, psychotic woman. The antagonists have no nuance to them and no redeeming qualities. It feels as if I’ve already read this before in his other books. I understand authors have their bread and butter, their own styles and different ticks, but aside from a few differences, it feels like it is all recycled material from other Smith novels and functions as a crutch.
“Last Day” is another extreme horror novel under Smith’s belt. If you are a fan of Bryan Smith, this should satisfy the desire for the brutal, unapologetic horror he provides. For this reader, the formula is getting a bit monotonous. Considering Smith can write novels like “Slowly We Rot,” I know Smith can evolve his narrative and characters beyond the level of “Last Day.”