Dana Diaz is an aspiring stand‑up comedian—a woman in a man’s world. When she meets a tough computer programmer named Amanda Dorn, the two bond over their struggles in boys’ club professions. Dana confides that she’s recently been harassed and assaulted while in L.A., and Amanda comes up with a plan: they should go after each other’s assailants, Strangers on a Train–style. But Dana finds that revenge, however sweet, draws her into a more complicated series of betrayals. Soon her distrust turns to paranoia, encompassing strangers, friends—and even herself. At what cost will she get her vengeance? Who will end up getting hurt? And when it’s all over, will there be anyone left to trust?
Last Woman Standing was a wild joyride! Boy am I happy I’m not a man in this novel! I count myself lucky I haven’t experienced any abusive behaviour from men in my life but I’m not blind and with everything #metoo has brought above board I’ve heard more than enough to know lots of women have stories and experiences similar to the ones in the novel. So in a way the novel felt as far removed from me as it was easily imaginable. For once men weren’t going to get away with it though and I was excited to see the fantasy of making them pay play out and find out where it led. Haven’t we all had some wish to get even with someone who wronged us? It made the women, Dana and Amanda, relatable and they had me on their side (at least at first) but I don’t need to tell you that revenge is a dangerous game ;-).
As much as I enjoyed the level of entertainment in this novel, I still had a few minor issues while reading too. First of all, the novel starts with Dana Diaz being introduced as a comic. I welcomed that idea and I enjoyed hearing a bit more about that scene and the terminology, but humour is a dangerous thing, it’s subjective and will be perceived differently by each person. So to cut the story short, I didn’t get her humour, I didn’t find her jokes or her pitch ideas funny, nor her Betty impersonation. Maybe it would be different if it were visual (although I doubt even that) but in a novel it didn’t really work for me. I was a little worried that she’d keep this up all through the novel but luckily it’s mostly in the beginning of the novel and it gets much more serious very fast.
So serious in fact that the novel was more violent than I expected, it all starts pretty innocently and I seriously love a novel about taking revenge but I enjoy it more if they take on a more subtle approach. This was in no way subtle, both girls are really losing it, their actions growing more violent and getting out of hand. It all went a little crazy and I found them to go over the top, I actually felt bad for the men ;-).
In the second half of the novel the relationship and bond between both women shifts, becomes strained and possibly dangerous. The plot becomes quite twisty and there’s more to these women than you’d think. Who to trust, who is is playing who, who will be the last woman standing? I enjoyed the vibe in the last part most of all, stepping away from the themes that the author clearly wanted to address with this novel was the way to go for me.
The ending of the novel was strong but I couldn’t help feeling a little dissatisfied that not everyone was brought to justice. I can’t shake the feeling that the outcome was still somehow unfair and I don’t like that it suggests you can get away with it. It turned me against one of the characters in the last few minutes of the novel, and it tastes sour to leave it this way.
I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.