Ever wanted to know what would happen of Survivor and The Passage got together? Well, read The Last One by Alexandra Oliva.
Goodreads summary of The Last One:
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.
Review of The Last One
This book was one that I didn’t want to put down. Plus I just keep thinking about it. That tells you that it is a good book in my book (ha!). The book has two different timelines. In the “now” while we follow the main character, Zoo, through the apocalyptic landscape. In the “then” chapters, we follow the contestants through the survival-type reality show they are on. Now this isn’t the run of the mill reality show. It has a huge budget, with three episodes a week, that are shown only a week or so after it actually happens. The contestants think the show is mainly about surviving different group and individual challenges. In reality, the show is really about how far people can be pushed before they break. There is of course an out, a contestant just needs to say a phrase, and they are allowed to quit.
Like any reality show, the contestants are broken down to stereotypes. We don’t really learn their names, just the nicknames. Zoo, Tracker, Banker, Black Doctor, etc. The show begins with a variety of solo and group challenges. We quickly learn the contestants that actually have a chance to win and the ones that are there for drama. The contestants also see how for the show is willing to go, with dead body props. Finally, the contestants go on their first big solo mission. Little do they know, the world outside their secluded woods has completely changed.
Through the majority of the book, we follow Zoo through the present day. But the flashbacks to when the show was just beginning allow us to see why her mindset is what it is. She is fighting for her life, even if she doesn’t realize it. On the second day of the solo challenge, the show pulls out of the woods because of a pandemic. However, Zoo couldn’t be found because her camera man had already died. She figures everything is part of the show, because no one has told her otherwise. Zoo sees no one as she walks through a desolate landscape of abandoned towns. She continues to struggle, but in the back of her mind, she knows the show won’t let her get in serious danger.
She finally meets Brenan, whom Zoo thinks is a cameraman and part of the show/challenge. In reality, he is a 13 year old kid just trying to survive. The two of them continue along, Zoo still pretending that she is on the show. Finally, something comes along and shakes Zoo out of her show-stupor, and she realizes everything is actually real. It is painful to read. But the biggest shock that Zoo will get is once she finally gets home.
What I loved most about The Last One is Zoo. I feel like I could be her. In the show, she is the stereotypical “nice” girl. She is there for the right reasons and will do everything with a smile on her face. But underneath, she doesn’t like putting up with incompetence from anyone. And that comes out sometimes. She also feels the societal pressure to “start” a family, and she state she will once the show is complete. As someone that doesn’t want kids, I know that feeling all too well.
While I didn’t terrible like Brennan, you have to feel for the kid. And at the end, the situation kind of pulls the heartstrings. All I know is that I can’t wait to read the next one when the truth finally comes out.
Go and get this book. It is darn good. Be forewarned, there are only a few flashes of action. This is more about the mental and emotional struggle rather than the splash and dash action of a normal apocalypse book. Another intriguing part of the book are the inserts of Reddit-like comments from people watching the show. The final couple really leave you wanting more. I for one, hope that there is a sequel to The Last One, because I want to find out more!A survival show mixed with an apocalypse makes for a fantastic book: The Last One. #bookworm Click To Tweet
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, almost a 4.5