The Last Dog on Earth by Adrian J Walker

September 14, 2017

Every dog has its day…

And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can be.

Reg, an agoraphobic writer with an obsession for nineties football, plans to wait out the impending doom in his second floor flat, hiding himself away from the riots outside.

But when an abandoned orphan shows up in the stairwell of their building, Reg and Lineker must brave the outside in order to save not only the child, but themselves…

In a weird moment of book related synchronicity, I finished one book that has a dog as a character only to immediately start another that also features a dog front and centre. The Last Dog on Earth, the latest from Adrian J Walker, is exactly what it promises to be; the tale of one man, his dog and the end of the world.

Lineker is most loyal mutt you are ever likely to meet. He will do anything for his human companion, Reg. He implicitly trusts the man he shares his life with. In fact, I’d go further, he idolises Reg. Lineker thinks humans are so consistently amazing in everything that we do, so how can Reg be anything other than perfect? It turns out dogs are far cleverer than we give them credit for since they respond to the training from the professionals from In their own unique way, our four legged friends are a philosophical bunch. They understand most things; their brains are like sponges when it comes to input.

The sad truth of the matter is that Reg is a bit of a mess. The world outside his tiny flat has gone to hell, but he is almost entirely oblivious. A personal trauma has left him all but broken and he copes with this by choosing to be alone. He wants nothing more than to avoid all human contact. As long as it is just Lineker and him, Reg is ok. I always find myself fascinated when an author captures those minute details that define a character. Even the simplest gesture or turn of phrase can speak volumes. Reg is very precise and his dismay whenever that precision is questioned or ignored feels palpable. It is just another well realised example of the coping mechanisms he has developed in order to survive.

At the heart of The Last Dog on Earth is the dynamic that exists between Lineker and Reg. The story is told from each of their perspectives as alternate chapters feature their point of view. We get to see how both interpret events differently. Lineker is all boundless enthusiasm and excitement (he is a dog after all) while Reg is introspective almost paranoid. I particularly love the way the character of Lineker comes across. I know we’ll never know exactly how our pets think, and I fully appreciate that we anthropomorphise their actions, but there is a part of me that hopes the way Lineker thinks is exactly what goes through the minds of all dogs.

As regular readers of The Eloquent Page are now well aware, I have a special place in my heart when it comes to the end of the world. Rather than focusing on a huge apocalyptic event, The Last Dog in the World looks at societal collapse due to the rise of the political extremism. What with the current state of affairs in the UK and elsewhere, it makes some of the content feel eerily plausible. Snippets of the unpleasant rhetoric spouted by the story’s villains sounds like it could be coming right out the mouths of our politicians. I never expected a book about one man and his dog to be quite so topical.

Scattered throughout the narrative there are genuinely emotive moments. Reg and Lineker both slowly change as they leave the safety of their quiet little life. I’m always impressed when fiction manages to be so affecting. Reg’s history is also explored, and the reasons he is the way he is are ultimately revealed. You get a real sense of what makes this forlorn shadow of a man tick. In all honesty, faced with the things he has had to face, I don’t imagine I would have fared any better. Sometimes we can be so damaged by the outside world the only option, when it comes to self- preservation, is to retreat from everything and everyone. The only lifeline Reg has in his life is his dog. Watching how he desperately clings to that single connection is riveting.

The Last Dog on Earth caught me completely unaware. I had no expectations going in as I’ve not read any of Adrian J Walker’s other work*. I was impressed. The story was great, the characters are memorable and there is plenty of insight into the nature of humanity and how we view ourselves and others.

It turns out there aren’t that many soundtracks that feature dogs that aren’t anything other than jolly and upbeat. The Last Dog on Earth isn’t always upbeat and jolly. I felt it would be doing it a disservice picking one of those. There was really only one album that fit all my criteria to accompany this book. The soundtrack to the movie version of Cujo by Charles Bernstein. Lineker isn’t a rabid St Bernard, but let’s just say he does have his moments.

The Last Dog on Earth is published by Del Rey and is available now. Highly recommended

*A quick internet search reveals there is a book called The End of the World Running Club. That sounds intriguing, I like both those things. I might have to give that a go.

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