Survival is the name of the game as the line blurs between reality TV and reality itself in Alexandra Oliva’s fast-paced novel of suspense.
She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far.
It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens—but how widespread is the destruction, and has it occurred naturally or is it human-made? Cut off from society, the contestants know nothing of it. When one of them—a young woman the show’s producers call Zoo—stumbles across the devastation, she can imagine only that it is part of the game.
Alone and disoriented, Zoo is heavy with doubt regarding the life—and husband—she left behind, but she refuses to quit. Staggering countless miles across unfamiliar territory, Zoo must summon all her survival skills—and learn new ones as she goes.
But as her emotional and physical reserves dwindle, she grasps that the real world might have been altered in terrifying ways—and her ability to parse the charade will be either her triumph or her undoing.
Sophisticated and provocative, The Last One is a novel that forces us to confront the role that media plays in our perception of what is real: how readily we cast our judgments, how easily we are manipulated.
I loved every minute of reading this book! I felt like it was a pretty original twist on the dystopian / ’28 days later’-themed story and was SO much fun to read, from start to finish!
The characters are all presented to the reader in the way that they’re shown on TV, in the survival show (you even read comments from viewers of the show in online forums), but you also see what actually happened behind the scenes and behind the cameras, which makes you really think about how producers and editors can manipulate the programme and viewer’s feelings on each character. I was quite aware of this anyway, but it really drove it home as I read The Last One.
Many 0f the book’s characters are presented to the reader only by vaguely descriptive names – eg. ‘Zoo’, ‘Tracker’, ‘Asian Chick’, Biology’ etc – as we learn about their progression through the show’s challenges from the beginning, and the reader doesn’t find out a huge amount about them really… apart from Zoo ,who we also see in a separate, ‘current’ narrative. It’s interesting to try and work out how it got from the controlled, very contrived environment of the show’s filming, when we know everything happened for a reason, to the current day’s terror and confusion after what seems to be the spread of a mass, deadly virus. The reader also knows – or at least suspects – far more than Zoo is aware of, and this adds extra tension and intrigue to the story.
Along with Zoo on her journey I felt shocked, confused, angry and emotional at times, and I did feel like some parts weren’t quite as gripping as the rest, but overall I hugely enjoyed this fantastic debut novel from Alexandra Oliva and would definitely, 100% read any future releases!
The storyline was interesting, well crafted, entertaining and, most of all (despite the quite serious subject matter) really fun to read!