Review: The Last One

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Book Title: The Last One
Author: Alexandra Oliva
Series: None
Genres: Fiction, Dystopia, Thriller, Science Fiction

Date Read: 07/26/16
Pub Date: 07/12/16


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 man-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.

“Well, that escalated quickly…” seems to be the theme of this book. I had a blast reading this one; it was disturbing in an “in your face” type of manner with no concern for the reader’s feelings (just as I like it). I will say that I agree with most of the other reviews before mine; if this had been cleaned up just a bit, it would have been a 5 star read for me, no questions asked. This wasn’t your typical YA dystopian novel; there are relationships but in reality no romance is portrayed. The content is more adult than your typical teen story which made this a highly anticipated read for me. The Last One felt like the love child of Survivor and The Walking Dead (minus the zombies).

“No one knows for sure what happened, small scale or large. No one knows precisely what went wrong. But before he dies, the producer will know this much: Something went wrong.”

After mulling this one over a bit, I think my favorite thing about this book is the way it is written. Each chapter flips back and forth between the beginning of filming the reality show and present time. The latter is narrated by a cast member named Zoo; the former reads almost as though you are privy to a production script and schedule. It has a really nice flow to it; the style kept me on my toes and had my interest piqued through the entire story; I truly did not want to put this one down. The pacing was immaculate and the author revealed just enough at a time to make me want to read “just one more chapter”.

It took me awhile to get the characters straight, as there are a good number of them, and they go by their TV nickname and their given name alternately. It was fun trying to pair up those names along the way as its not clear right off the bat who is who. Even though there’s not much of a mystery here as to the who and what, the idea I felt behind this story was the why. We don’t get many answers until halfway through the book, but at that point things start ramping up rather fast and we find out most of the clues to the puzzle from then on. I don’t want to delve into further plot details because (duh) spoilers, but trust me, you won’t regret picking this one up if you’re looking for an intense, severely entertaining survival story. I could have read this in one sitting if life and adulting weren’t a thing.

*Many thanks to Alexandra Oliva, Ballantine Books, and NetGalley for providing my copy in exchange for an honest review. I’ll definitely be looking out for the author’s next book. Write quickly please! 

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